The new community centre at the foot of the tower opened in October 2015 and provides a multi-purpose space for youth and community activities, a performance area for music, drama and dance, an IT training area as well as a purpose built cafe run by a local social enterprise scheme. The centre aims to be accessible and inclusive by appealing to all ages – a move away from separate spaces for ‘toddler,’ ‘youth clubs’ or a ‘day centre’ – providing a single, coherent, welcoming space that can comfortably accommodate a range of activities from Zumba to tea dances, rap to big band performances!
The community centre brief and accommodation schedule was developed after extensive consultation with the key stakeholders. This included reviews, presentations, exhibitions and interactions with user groups, tenants associations, Hackney Council and wider consultation with CABE and the neighbouring Clapton Square Conservation Area Forum, to take the project from initial scope to detailed brief.
A key design requirement was a sustainable, flexible open space that could be easily adapted and screened for both quiet and learning activities. The centre boasts a modern, spacious functional interior, adopting an open plan layout with exposed concrete walls and floors. With minimal structural divisions, the expansive sight lines, bold flashes of colour and modern furnishings all contribute to a contemporary, playful look. The shared environment invites local residents to come together both formally and informally. The double height entrance space and feature stairs to the first floor learning studios provide excellent orientation within the building and allows easy access without barriers to meet and greet around the central glass reception pod for both staff and visitors.
There was an average of 252 visits to the Community Centre a week in the first six months. The Centre has provided jobs for four local residents and volunteering opportunities for sixteen residents.