LYN Atelier were commissioned to design a community centre using materials that were ‘left over’ from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.
How were you commissioned?:
LYN Atelier was appointed by The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) after winning a three-way creative pitch.
What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?:
The brief from the client was to design a community centre using materials that were 'left over' from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. The LLDC (previously the Olympic delivery Authority) had a large hard standing that was full of everything they had retained after the games, this comprised everything from the aquatic centre seats, running track and most importantly for the project a number of steel frame cabins that were used in the Olympic village. We were asked specifically to use these cabins as the main structure of the building. The client was closely involved all the way through the project as this was a pilot project for them to understand how they could reuse material from the Olympics.
How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?:
The brief informed the project fundamentally through restricting the materials that were available to construct the building. The cabins were reconfigured and joined together with additional internal steelwork that formed the main structure of the community centre. We wanted to retain the finishes of the cabins as much as possible to show a history of where the materials we used had come. All the services were surface mounted, doors were used at high level as windows and the floor was patched up with a different colour linoleum where we had to puncture it to fit new steel work. We reused large amounts of decking and timber, fencing used around the Olympic park was used as the façade with aluminium tabs cut from cladding panels originally used on the Olympic warm up centre. We were also required to work with the local community to design and build elements of the project. The main space features a chandelier made by a local school group inspired by hackney's architecture and the facade was designed and built by local participants.
How did your previous experience help you with this project?:
We have substantial experience working in the arts and culture sector on temporary installations working with a small budget and using recycled and up-cycled materials. We have worked on projects with a lot of recycling and reuse from using shipping containers to make staircases to recycling wheelbarrows into seats. There was also a requirement to design and create the project with the local community. We have experience creating participatory design projects in particular the creation of a bar, cafe and exhibition space at Southbank Centre, London called Festival Village that we designed and built with 500 volunteers
Can you explain the layout of the project:
HUB 67 comprises a reception area, a meeting room, a kitchenette, a multi purpose double height hall and toilet facilities.
What problems or challenges did you face?:
We needed to meet part L of the building regulations (the conservation of energy). There is no dispensation for all the embodied carbon we recycled in the creation of the building. (We estimate that we reused around 80% recycled material in the building). The cabins were designed for the summer and required additional insulation and ventilation and it was a challenge to find out what specification the existing windows and structure were in order make thermal calculations. We wanted to retain the cabins structure and finishes as much as possible to limit the use of new materials which involved deigning cleverly to integrate services, additional insulation and structural reinforcement into the design. The client required a tightly written specification document, as they wanted a fixed price from the building tender. The specification document was a challenge to produce, as recycled material is inherently not standard or predictable and difficult to describe. It was hard to get contractors to submit a cost and accept the risk of working with recycled material.
What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?:
The façade made from anticlimb fencing used to surround the Olympic park with aluminium panels cut from the warm up centre in Barking The whole structure of the building using and retaining existing cabins.
How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?:
Designing a new building with elements that were built originally to be something else challenges the whole approach to the way we design, forcing an inventive, adaptive and pragmatic approach to the design and through the build process. There is no room for precious design detail, as one has to work with what one has and adapt the design as the building process uncovers more about the materials one is working with. The process of formalising a new build contractually we think is exciting as it is a step forward to normalising a more sustainable way of building. We believe that we cannot carry on demolishing and creating new buildings with new material in our cities. The project proves that good design can co-exist with an innovative approach to recycling and engagement with the public. Importantly it also shows that the process of adaptation and re-use can deliver a form that would not necessarily arise if it was purely a new build project using new materials.