Architects Astudio have announced the official opening of their Spotlight Youth Space project in Poplar, East London. The £7m project was designed for client Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association (HARCA) to help address the inadequate provision of existing youth facilities in Tower Hamlets. The four year design and construction process overseen by Astudio involved over 1,600 individual consultations with local young people and stakeholders.
The youth space was designed to provide users with the opportunity for leisure and skills development, helping to empower and galvanise the local community. This has been achieved through the creation of a range of varied facilities including a boxing gym, state of the art recording studios, multiple social and learning spaces, a café and a 260 sq m performance hall.
The design concept was generated by the creation of two interlocking cubes around the central triple height multi-use performance hall. This space forms the heart of the building with the circulation on each floor wrapped around it, giving a clear logic to the internal layout and visually connecting the three main floors. Internal glazing provide views into the different spaces, assisting passive supervision and allowing the young people to see what other activities are going on within the building.
The building’s striking façade features colourful bespoke aluminium cladding panels, finished in a metallic, dichroic coating. This material seemingly changes colour when viewed from different angles and under varying light conditions. The effect is intensified by the texture of the embossed and indented panels, transforming the building’s appearance from grey to purple, and from green to gold.
George Brennan, Director of Astudio commented: “We’re immensely proud of this building, and have worked closely with Poplar HARCA to create a world-class creative youth space. The project has been shaped by the active engagement of local young people, and they have been instrumental in the design process, their extensive input ensuring that the resultant facilities are truly fit for purpose. Our team’s commitment and attention to detail has delivered a stunning aesthetic both inside and out, meeting the brief for a vibrant, colourful and dynamic space that is already being firmly embraced by the local community.”
The building has been awarded BREEAM Excellent based on its use of energy efficient plant, metering of water and energy and selection of materials of low environmental impact. To minimise energy use exposed thermal mass has been utilised to prevent overheating in summer without the need for extensive comfort cooling systems. Renewable energy technologies are also inherent in the energy strategy and include gas sourced heat pumps and PV panels on the roof.
The building has been orientated north-south, the north facing spaces allow daylight into the building without heat or glare from the sun, whilst in the south facing spaces low e glazing has been incorporated.