Hwb Dinbych is a multi-purpose facility for young people, incorporating supported housing. It is located on the outskirts of a housing estate and only a few yards from the historic town centre of Denbigh. The building provides learning spaces for vocational skills and gives access to business advice, counselling and mentoring, as well as supporting other services for young people, ranging from 11 to 25 years old. It also includes six self-contained 1-bed apartments for affordable rental by 16-25 year olds.
Inclusive and Accessible
The aim of the project was to create a centre that will providesupport to young people in general, particularly those at risk of under-achieving in life, and to reduce homelessness amongst the young. The project aims to be inclusive and accessible to the whole community, attracting a broad cross-section of Denbigh residents, particularly young people.
The design concept, derived from the client’s aspirations, provides openness, visibility and accessibility from the street, as well as ‘ownership’ by the young. The building is flexible and able to respond to different users’ needs, allowing local training and support services to be delivered and links with local businesses to be fostered.
Care has been taken to ensure that the ecological and environmental impacts of the redevelopment are positive. The building has achieved a BREEAM “excellent” rating for energy use and “very good” rating for the overall scheme. Copper and other materials were carefully selected for recyclability and reduced environmental impact, in line with ‘The Green Guide to Specification’.
In compositional terms, the design defines two main masses: the copper-clad volume of the Youth Enterprise Centre/College and the concrete-faced volume of the supported housing block. The main entrance of the complex is through a glazed atrium which links the two parts across a double-height reception space.
Summertime overheating is minimised by overhanging the first floor and providing a colonnade along the front of the building. Floor levels dictated by flood risk alleviation resulted in the base of the building jutting out of the ground as the site slopes downhill, giving the eastern end of the building elevated views to the surroundings. Precast concrete facades were selected to reference the local stone and traditional pebbledash rendered houses, allowing the building to blend in with its surrounding. The copper-green coloured, V-shaped columns add a playful note to the composition.
The pre-oxidised copper rain-screen of the front elevation extends past the glazed wall of the atrium to provide some solar shading and to frame views of the nearby castle. Tall windows in this copper ribbon also reflect the medieval architecture of the castle. The prominent sign above the entrance was also made of copper to match the main elevation.
Particular care was taken with the rhythm of the copper standing seams to avoid formality and repetition, and give the main street elevation a natural feel. This is further reinforced by the use of box seams at corner junctions and at either side of openings. Box seams were also employed on the end elevation to highlight the location of curtain wall members on the larger opening of the Arts & Crafts workshop.