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Sands End Arts and Community Centre

by Mæ Architects

Client Hammersmith and Fulham Council

Awards RIBA London Award 2022 and RIBA London Building of the Year Award 2022 (sponsored by Taylor Maxwell)

© Rory Gardiner

Located on the northwest corner of Fulham’s South Park, the new Sands End Arts and Community Centre is a collaborative development comprising several new connected pavilions arranged around the existing disused Clancarty Lodge, a popular landmark that was refurbished as an exhibition space as part of the same project.

Driven by the local council’s arts strategy of improving access to cultural activities for the widely diverse local community, the development’s brief and programme were co-created in consultation with the council, user clients, local stakeholders and local residents, all facilitated by the architects.

The result is a flexible new facility at the gateway into the park. An existing opening through the boundary wall leads to a welcoming lobby that frames views through to the central courtyard and, beyond that, the park. The central courtyard is open to the east but surrounded by new pavilions to the north and west and the refurbished Clancarty Lodge to the south.

© Rory Gardiner

Apart from a café, toilets, showers and changing facilities, the new accommodation, all single-storey with level access, has been left as multi-purpose lettable spaces for arts and cultural activities, making a virtue of flexibility. (Indeed, this was tested mid-project when plans to locate a nursery in the west wing were scrapped: the change was easily accommodated.)

The new pavilions’ distinctive monopitch roof forms vary in height, inspired by the glasshouses that had previously stood on the site. Nearer the boundary, they rise to double-height, responding to the scale of the neighbouring buildings. In the central courtyard, however, they are more modest and intimate.

© Rory Gardiner

To the courtyard side, the new pavilions are clad in honey-toned brick, their roofs edged in pre-patinated copper. Inside, the pavilions are constructed in CLT and glulam, with green stained timber panelling. The CLT frame and woodwool slab infill are left unfinished at ceiling level, heightening the feeling of light from high-level clerestory glazing.   

Externally, a skin of honey-toned brick forms gable and external walls. Vertical stained timber fins screen high-level glazing, contrasting with the horizontality of the brick boundary walls. 

The sustainably sourced CLT frame not only sequesters carbon but it's also lightweight, reducing foundation requirements. The honey-toned bricks contain 60% recycled material and are laid on their side, reducing the overall quantity needed.    

© Rory Gardiner

Orientation plays a big part in reducing energy use. South-facing glazing is shaded by overhangs. High-level actuated vents and low-level openable windows passively ventilate the spaces. The whole centre is powered by one domestic boiler, and PVs contribute to the energy supply.   

The new facility makes a significant contribution to its community. Every aspect, including the café, is managed and run by local people, allowing them to be flexible in both their opening hours and offering. Function spaces can be booked out by anyone and are well used.

The architects have met the brief and budget with confidence and inventiveness, delivering a highly sustainable, delightful and flexible asset for the client.

Internal area: 662.00 m² 

Contractor: Neilcott Construction

Structural Engineers: Elliot Wood 

Environmental / M&E Engineers: Max Fordham 

Landscape Architects: J & L Gibbons 

Employers Agent: Ikon Consultancy 

Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: Ikon Consultancy

Acoustic Engineers: Mach Acoustics 

Planning consultant: CMA Planning Consultants 

CDM: PFB Ltd. 

© Elizabeth Henderson
© Juli Richter
© Mæ Architects
© Mæ Architects
© Mæ Architects
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