New-build Community Centre for Highfield Park Trust
This simple building for Highfield Park Trust, built on the site of an old storage compound replaces and supplements facilities used in the original West Lodge nearby, enabling that to be sold for residential use to assist the charity’s income. The new centre now provides a vital hub and a more appropriate base for the Trust’s activities and as a venue for visitors, and local organisations.
The generous entrance porch and lobby give access to the Trust office on one side, and an accissible toilet to the other, leading to a large central meeting room, with an office and mess room on opposite sides. Loft spaces provide storage. The design accomodated numerous functions in a simple and effective manner. Construction is deliberately simple: an insulated timber roof and canopy structure extending over highly insulated walls and windows. The building is off-grid, so an air-source heat pump supplements heating and hot water supply.
The aim was to build a barn style building that belonged to the park rather than a statement modern building; a new building that was sympathetic, carefully detailed, subtle and timeless.
St Albans Civic Society Awards 2018: ‘This unassuming, effective, and quietly distinguished building provides a most appropriate and important centre for valuable work of the Trust in the park and with the local community’.
Hertfordshire Architects Association (HAA) Awards 2019: ‘What impressed us most about the building is how such a modest structure, which appears entirely appropriate, almost unassuming in its setting, can serve such a range of activities, from office space and storage to toilets and a central multi-purpose space for meetings, exhibitions and classes. Everything is made to work hard, with nothing wasted or unnecessary – and with impressive sustainability credentials. In this respect, it was significant that the off-grid location meant that an air-source heat pump became the optimum solution for providing heating. All-in-all a very cleverly designed building, with no hint of the architectural indulgence that often characterises this building type, and an exemplary demonstration of what can be achieved by prioritising what’s important.’