Mae Architects has completed a community centre in west London that is designed to be as adaptable and recyclable as possible.
Enhancing the social and leisure offer in the local area, Mae’s completion of the Sands End Arts and Community Centre in Fulham is a welcome addition to the local community. Sited beside the Clancarty Lodge in the northwestern corner of South Park, the centre caters to a wide range of users; providing a café alongside spaces for social and educational functions, clubs, and events. With a view to ensuring long term viability, dedicated nursery facilities have also been included in the scheme.
Hammersmith and Fulham’s ambitious brief sought to deliver community facilities that promoted social integration within the community. Mae have delivered on the council’s aspirations, with a building that blends together several programmatic elements within a highly sustainable shell. Over 35% of the building material is composed of recycled materials, with a responsibly sourced CLT timber structure which has inherently low embodied energy values. Recyclable construction materials have also been considered by Mae: for instance the use of bolts over glue as a structural fixing to allow for ease of disassembly.
The building’s brick skin has been supplied by specialist supplier ‘StoneCycling’, which has allowed Mae's design to effectively upcycle over 28 tonnes of potential construction landfill material. The bespoke ‘Nougat’ WasteBasedBricks® have been created specifically for Sands End, to suit the context and its characteristics.
Located on the edge of the park, the new centre sits adjacent to the 1903 Lodge which is a key marker signalling arrival into the park. The exterior timber faïence detailing and the roof are distinctive of London park buildings from this date. Mae have retained the lodge building, repurposing it as an arts space, around which the new additions have been slotted, forming a series of new internal and external experiences.
The additions are designed to be secondary to the lodge, with a scale and massing which creates an ensemble of forms that frame the view of the existing lodge from both the street and within the park. The triangular roof forms reference glasshouse structures - formerly sited in South Park and at Fulham Palace - that Mæ unearthed from the archives. Clerestory glazing also adds to this effect drawing light in from above the existing Victorian perimeter wall without detracting from it.
A series of new public spaces are laid out in sequence from the street to park, closely connected with the new facility. Each space will have its own distinct and intimate character. The landscaping design took inspiration from exotic nurseries and the former horticultural use of the site, where structure and landscape were closely intertwined.
The interior materiality is driven by the image of the kinds of lightweight structures which enclose glasshouses, reinforcing the idea that the additions are designed to be secondary to the lodge. The use of an expressed timber roof construction gives a natural lightness to the space. These interior spaces are lit by large north facing clerestory glazing to give a consistent light environment for internal activities. Internally, the use of timber exposed timber structure and envelope reinforces the sustainable agenda behind the project while giving a highly tactile quality to the space.