Location: Crawley, England
Project Year: 2007
Photographs: Nigel Rigden
From the architect. In 2007 Re-Format was commissioned by both Crawley Borough Council and West Sussex Council to combine a complex amalgam of a Children’s Centre, a new community hall and the first phase of a new primary school in a small suburb of Crawley, Langley Green. In response Re-Format designed a building that is the first of its kind, integrating all the varying public facilities into one overall form that is wrapped by an elegant concrete framed pavilion punctuated by a landmark two storey community hall.
Within the building, the various facilities have been carefully distributed into two clear zones; the community zone and the administration zone. Contained within the community zone is a range of meeting spaces plus the community hall which incorporates a full height sliding partition system to divide the room into smaller spaces if required. In the administration zone a number of meeting rooms, office spaces and the Langley Green Primary School's head teacher’s office are all located. The two zones are then delineated by a large open reception space which is punctuated by two generous circulation spaces providing access to both. All spaces are generously lit by natural daylight through a combination of windows, roof lights, light tubes and roof lanterns.
Externally, entry to the building is provided via a newly designed urban plaza which connects the Centre to the existing shopping precinct and recently constructed doctor’s surgery. At the rear of the building a variety of more private courtyard spaces have been formed into which activities from within the building can spill. The careful consideration of the plaza design continues through into the elevations of the building creating a bespoke landmark for the local community. The elevations consist of two horizontal bands of coloured panels of varying ones. The lower band, intersected by full height glazing, consists of an extremely robust laminate panel system in a mixture of light blue-green hues whilst the upper band consists of deeper blue-green hues of highly reflective glass panels and the selected colour tones are abstracted from the Crawley Borough Council colours. This utilisation of the Council's brand colours makes a physical connection of the Council in the community and shows a tangible engagement of Council services.
Environmentally the building excels, which is in no small part down to the willingness of the client to create a highly sustainable development that minimises carbon emissions. The heating requirement is significantly reduced by a combination of two methods. Firstly, the building incorporates ‘super insulation’ throughout leading to U-values nearly half of what would be required for Building Regulations. Secondly, air loss through the building fabric has been reduced to just 4 m3/hr/m2 @50 Pa; again significantly lower than the 10 m3/hr/m2 @50 Pa required by Building Regulations.
Summer cooling requirements have also been significantly reduced through the incorporation of an exposed in-situ concrete roof slab. The concrete provides cooling by absorbing the heat throughout the day and then releasing it overnight through cross ventilation of the building. Cooling is further enhanced by the incorporation of a carefully designed natural ventilation system centred on the incorporation of a series of wind catchers within the roof. This ensures that even the deepest of spaces within the building are provided with excellent ventilation. To minimise the requirement for artificial lighting and ensure an even distribution of light throughout the building, the scheme incorporates an abundance of glazed openings, both at high level and low levels. Furthermore, during the summer months glare is minimised by the deep reveal pre-cast brise soleil elements.
Externally the building also performs to exceptionally high environmental standards, with an intensive green roof specified across the entire building to aid rainwater attenuation and provide a rich bio-diversity surface in order to encourage birds and other wildlife to the site. All materials selected have been chosen for their excellent environmental properties, low embodied energy and durable nature, with the vast majority achieving A+ ratings within the Green Guide. Lastly, the building incorporates a combination of solar pre-heat panels to supplement the hot water demand.
To quantify the Children’s Centre’s performance in use, it produces just 18.8 KgCO2/m2 per annum, achieves a BREEAM rating of ‘Very Good’ and is just one mark shy of achieving an ‘A’ grade for the Energy Performance Asset Rating. As such, Langley Green Children’s Centre provides a highly sustainable addition to Crawley which offers a model for future developments within the area. To conclude Langley Green Children’s Centre successfully combines a diverse mix of facilities for public use in an elegant and bespoke public form that achieves the very highest environmental standards.