Every building we design at T2S Architecture strives to embody our ethos within the boundaries of the brief, although not all designs get built.
But the practice of designing to a brief is its own reward, as it helps us refine our ideas, extend our skills, and shape our thinking in new directions.This multi-use enterprise hub project is a concise example.
T2S designed this building for a competition, and although the entry was not ultimately successful, this preliminary proposal is emblematic of our belief in sustainable architecture and our commitment to creating attractive, modern, and inviting new spaces where they are needed most.
The competition called for a multi-use enterprise hub building that would serve the local community, create new retail, business and enterprise space, and provide a focus for public interaction with food & drink outlets. It needed to work with the weekly open-air market at the square at the site's Eastern end and wrap around an existing commercial building's contours to the North.
The local authority wanted a vision to fit with Arts Council England's "Creative Highstreets January 2022" case study, which extolled the value of "glue" developments and hubs that had successfully helped revitalise retail areas and boost community engagement with arts, business and leisure elsewhere in the UK.
Our designs for the site, which is over 100m in length and 6m higher at one end than the other, feature a main building with a 600m2 footprint, rising to three stories at each end.The 10m open frontage provides a pedestrian route towards the market square, staying at ground level on the eastern end until it meets a shallow, wide ramp rising from the west.
This has the effect of lifting the pedestrian access above the vehicular access, but still offering an accessible and inviting route and public area.The ground floor is devoted to the hospitality area , as specified in the brief, and given the sloping nature of the site, we have designed a lightwell to admit more daylight and reduce reliance on artificial lighting. The flexible office and enterprise spaces are carried through the next three floors, with the upper storey set well back to help maintain existing skylines and avoid overshadowing.
The flexible office and enterprise spaces are accessible through open corridors running the length of the building, softening its visual impact. The external corridors also create solar shading for the glass facade and a naturally ventilated escape route.
We chose timber frame for the construction, and timber cladding for much of the exterior for several important architectural reasons: Timber is a sustainable building material; timber constructions sequester carbon in the fabric of the building; it has excellent thermal insulation properties, removing the need for costly thermal breaks; timber framed buildings are lighter, placing less load on the foundations, which can be smaller - reducing the amount of concrete required, cutting carbon emissions and lowering costs.
We also chose timber for its aesthetic qualities: Timber cladding creates a natural, softer presentation that changes pleasingly with the light, the weather, and age. With its neutral and earthy tones, timber cladding helps create a calmer, less intimidating, and more welcoming milieu.All of these design decisions were driven by a simple ethos - better urban spaces.
Our towns and cities must be attractive, affordable and stimulating places to live. We have the materials, technology and practices needed to make these places characterful, valuable and sustainable - just as this enterprise hub could be.