British practice Astudio have recently completed a large youth space in Poplar, East London, featuring a gym, recording studios and performance hall alongside multiple social and learning spaces. Designed with the input from other 1600 young people and stakeholders, the four year project has been part of a wider initiative to address the inadequate provision of existing youth facilities in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. As the team's second youth space completed in the last year, Spotlight has recently been shortlisted for a World Architecture Festival Award.
According to the architects, "the youth space was designed to provide users with opportunity for leisure and skills development, helping to empower and galvanise the local community." This has been achieved through the creation of a range of varied facilities. "The design concept was generated by the creation of two interlocking cubes around the central triple height multi-use performance hall. This space forms the heart of the building with the circulation on each floor wrapped around it, giving a clear logic to the internal layout and visually connecting the three main floors. Internal glazing provide views into the different spaces, assisting passive supervision and allowing the young people to see what other activities are going on within the building."
The building’s façade features colourful bespoke aluminium cladding panels, finished in a metallic, dichroic coating. "This material seemingly changes colour when viewed from different angles and under varying light conditions. The effect is intensified by the texture of the embossed and indented panels, transforming the building’s appearance from grey to purple, and from green to gold."
The building has been awarded BREEAM Excellent based on its use of energy efficient plant, metering of water and energy and selection of materials of low environmental impact. To minimize energy use exposed thermal mass has been utilised to prevent overheating in summer without the need for extensive comfort cooling systems. Renewable energy technologies are also inherent in the energy strategy and include gas sourced heat pumps and PV panels on the roof.
George Brennan, Director of Astudio, said that "the project has been shaped by the active engagement of local young people, and they have been instrumental in the design process, their extensive input ensuring that the resultant facilities are truly fit for purpose."