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Project - Alconbury Weald Club
Architect - Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Sector - Commercial & Residential
Technology - CLT
Located on a former airfield site which will be redeveloped over the next 25 years, the Alconbury Club acts as a welcoming hub for the emerging community of Alconbury Weald. The brief was to create a 1100 m2 flexible mixed use building, dedicating more than half of its area to community facilities including an events space, a gym and a café/bar with various breakout space options, with the remainder of the space for the developer's own offices and facilities within the building.
Since the site is within a government-identified Enterprise Zone which benefits from a streamlined planning process, there were few planning constraints. With the neighbouring Incubator as an indication of the quality of the proposed building, the application was processed and approved in just a month.
Establishing a threshold between commercial/enterprise and residential zones, the building relates to the neighbouring Incubator office building through its elevations and comparable vertical proportion, composition and material palette, while maximising transparency and warmth through the exposed timber enclosures. The building complements its neighbours on site, referring to the military and industrial heritage but reinterpreting the timber cladding theme through slip-and-miss vertical orientated battens and shading canopy overhangs. The transparent frontage and corner segregated back-glazed panes invite contemplation and encourage interaction. The lightweight glulam frame with its glazed background and filtered light shades invites views of the landscape in. Fixed furniture pieces made from spare CLT panels combine with neutral toned Corian tops, laminated doors, and grey acoustic panels, while colour is introduced both in the linking stair and in the choice of loose furniture.
The building's structure is CLT, using a system of 4.5 to 6m wide structural bays. Columns and beams have a constant width, and deeper beams allow for greater void space as required, as in the hall and gym spaces. The Club was built in a single 26-week phase.
The Club's budget constraints were driven largely by lessons learned: the choice of materials was broadly in line with the Incubator building but sought to build and improve on what had been achieved there. While fully compliant mechanical mode ventilation had to be adopted, improvements to visible service fittings and finishes could be made.
The Club provides a new amenity hub at an early stage in the delivery of the masterplan, ensuring good leisure, health and community facilities for the developing community in a flexible, inclusive and welcoming building.
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