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New Horizon Youth Centre, UK

Adam Khan Architects

The refurbishment and extension of an established day centre in Kings Cross for young homeless people. Clients use the centre for anything between minutes and years, and can present tragic life-histories and challenging behaviours.

Our approach centred on the concept of Home, and how to invest an institutional building with the nurturing qualities, flexibility, ease and generosity of a welcoming, settled house. The ability to make yourself at home was identified as the key strategy at both furniture and room scales. Solid pieces of infrastructure - concrete counter, long oak table - are highly durable, but allow an active creative inhabitation.

This culminates in the Barn, a fully equipped rehearsal studio. It is a lofty oak-lined room of billowing, folding roof planes, an enveloping home for the imagination. A room-scaled window seat looks out to the courtyard. A small dormer in the balcony offers a tiny refuge, a nook just big enough for one person, sitting curled up looking out to the street below. The performance space is as usable for a quiet sulk as for a noisy workshop.

A copper roof fitted well with this intention on a number of different levels:

It sends a message of care, permanence and security to young vulnerable users – something that's here to stay and done with pride. It suits the economic model of an independent charity; one-off capital funding followed by a struggle to survive. So low maintenance and long-life justify the build cost.

Copper allowed us to form the detail and mass of the roof in one material, giving a crisp abstraction to the familiar forms used. And so a conversation was established between old and new.

We enjoyed the ability for fine tailoring that copper allowed. The sweeping, tall mass of the roof ends in a delicate upturned hem. The jointing of the copper drapes over the undulating form like a nicely tailored shirt. The downpipes become thin filaments connecting the roof to the earth.

The material is ageing gracefully into a rich, relaxed deep colour, making the relationship to the surrounding roofscape clearer and the building more settled.

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Building

Owner: 
New Horizon Youth Centre
Completion date: 
2010
Country: 
United Kingdom
Zip code: 
NW1 1JR
City: 
London
Street: 
Chalton Street

Categories

Applications: 
Roof parts/dormer
Roofs
Type of building: 
Cultural
Copper used: 
Classic
Estate: 
New

Architect

Name, office: 
Adam Khan Architects
Address & description: 
72 Lyndhurst GroveLondon SE15 5AH

Awards

Season: 
2011

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