Client:    East Kent College & Walkers Construction
Project:   Auditorium, Laboratories & Teaching Spaces
Location:   East Kent
Sector:   Education

East Kent College’s new Centre for the Creative Industries was designed in collaboration with Richard Hopkinson Designers.

Creatives Central
The centre provides a dynamic interface for collaborative work between different disciplines in the creative arts, and encourages business connections between the college and the community. Unusually it houses spaces for music, media, design, gaming design, practical art, editing, and photography as well a centre for entrepreneurial business development.

Conference of Creativity
A successful entry for an invited competition, our ambition for the scheme was to consolidate the college’s already strong academic pursuits and for them to be housed and nurtured in a single building where differing disciplines could collaborate, cross fertilise and exchange ideas. Secondly, the college wanted to link into the commercial world of creative industries by providing drop-in space and well-equipped facilities for local business and community benefit.

Our approach to the brief extracted three key points: It ‘opened things up’, inviting and encouraging scrutiny and engagement, it created ‘happen-chance’- mixing and lingering spaces, and it created flexible spaces which different disciplines could occupy and use either simultaneously or independently.

Contrasting Unit
Activities are housed in two opposing but complimentary designerural components; one outward looking and extrovert, the other inward looking and introvert – connected by means of a transparent entrance lobby.

The outward looking component is comprised of a refurbished three storey 1960’s brick structure rearranged to take advantage of the site’s 360 degree views, and housing teaching, learning and collaboration spaces. The inward looking component takes the form of a dramatic elevated and twisted black cube which houses a simple multifunctional space that can be used for anything from dance to cinema performances. A unique designerural tension exists between the two principle components – inward v outward, light v dark, contextual v challenging.

The Education Business
To deliver the required access to the commercial sector, the building is equipped with business installations specifically enabled to allow student and industry collaboration – most notably, the student showcase Business Suite. The Business Suite provides a backdrop to student/industry interactions ranging from 1:1 consultation through to full scale presentations and opportunities for project sponsorship.

The scheme, like all our work, was delivered using BIM Level 2 as a crucial enabler particularly when envisaging and communicating the elevated cube component.

New Housing Model
Livinhome is a housing model that is transferable, scalable, and suitable for single houses through to urban blocks. It allows alterations and additions to accommodate different life patterns and lifecycles and can change its use to adapt to an evolving urban or commercial context. There are a number of standard layouts onto which a range of exteriors and interiors can be fitted, reflecting the owners’ design and life choices.

Research Depth
Livinhome was developed following significant research into housing construction methodologies. It is a flexible design based on a repeatable plan layout/common chassis, with context-specific façades and street frontages. Flexibility is achieved by the inclusion of simple, pre-determined interventions delivering adaptable accommodation based on integrating a range of different design and policy standards.

Design Standards
The design is suitable for public or private sector housing and is based on relevant public sector design standards including the London Plan Housing Design Guide. As far as practically possible, Livinhome is designed to meet Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4.

Learning From Other Sectors
Office design often allows for adaptive space to meet different functions. This principle and our experience in the sector informed the standardised but flexible layout options in Livinhome. In addition, the prescriptive requirements of Heath Technical Memoranda of healthcare design influenced the detail and design of rooms for healthcare delivery in the home.

Standardised Design, Variable Appearance, Scalable Delivery.
By designing a standardised chassis able to take different elevation treatments, we created a scalable component that had the potential for large volume manufacture. Whilst having many standardised components and parts, Livinhome is flexible enough to be context-sensitive (all the pilot projects are in very different locations).

Off-site Manufacture, On-Site Assembly
The design of the dwelling and procurement became inseparable. We identified key packages that would benefit from linking to long term supply chain involvement in design and delivery; for example, superstructure, doors and door sets, windows and heating. Our ambition was to create a zero wet trade (from above ground floor slab) product.

Cost and Better Cost Predictability
Our standardised design made a significant contribution to cost savings, supply chain predictability and the creation of a mature supply chain. Waste was reduced during construction as design and construction details can be recycled from site to site. The predictability of the design shortened the speed of delivery and construction programmes resulting in cost savings.

Livinhome’s ability to change to different sized dwellings can be a challenge for Planning Authorities. While Planning Departments have been actively supportive of the concept, they require certainty over what has been consented. As a result, planning approval has generally been awarded on a fixed unit mix. If this changed during the life of the building, then separate planning applications would need to be lodged.

Client:    Guildhouse UK
Project:   Livinhome/Woodview Mews
Location:   Croydon
Sector:   Build for Sale



Images courtesy of Geraghty Taylor Architects




Images courtesy of Geraghty Taylor Architects