COVID-19 has taught us we need more public spaces. Just prior, Hawkins\Brown completed a London hub

London – Unveiled just before its COVID-related closing, London community hub The Plumstead Centre has reopened its doors as of 25 July. Combining cultural, leisure and library facilities, the public centre is located in a refurbished, extended Grade II-listed library building erected in 1903. The project’s completion, executed by architectural practice Hawkins\Brown, constituted the first phase of the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Urban Framework for the Plumstead High Street.

Neighbourhood residents are now able to benefit from libraries for children and adults, a café, collaboration space, gym, badminton court and two large studios for performing arts, yoga and exhibitions. At the moment, entry to activity areas requires a reservation, as in line with governmental regulations amid the pandemic. Nonetheless the upgraded interior and amenities come at a time when public spaces, especially in urban environments, are much needed by the community.

‘The new spaces have been designed to allow as much flexibility as possible,’ says Hawkins\Brown Project Architect Jack Penford Baker, ‘so that over the years the building will adapt to meet the changing needs of the local community, with space provided for a range of activities – from performances and classes to local events and exhibitions.’

Simultaneously preserving and enhancing the historical structure, Hawkins\Brown built a two-storey extension at the library’s rear to accommodate the leisure facilities as well as a new level-access entrance, a full-height glazed ‘box’. This transparent addition is meant to emphasize ‘the building’s function as an open civic centre’, says a spokesperson for the architects, and serve as an ‘informal social space’.

Brick, glass and metal were used to build the contemporary extension, as to work in visual unison with the existing library. Inside, each space has benefitted from a considerable refresh, turned into bright, wood-clad rooms with colourful furnishings and finishes. ‘The completed building demonstrates how new and old can come together to transform an underused community asset,’ continues Penford Baker.

Read about more institutional interiors here.

Location 232 Plumstead High St, London SE18 1JL, United Kingdom

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