The Green Community Centre

Neilcott have recently completed The Green Community Centre in Nunhead. The building has a new herringbone-patterned façade to reference a mock-Tudor Public House across the street. The 300sqm centre overlooks Nunhead Green in the London Borough of Southwark and is the first building to be completed as part of the masterplan for the area. The Green, named after the adjacent park, is designed to host a variety of community activates, ranging from new-wave taekwondo and football for under-fives, to jumble sales, children’s parties and wakes. The building takes its cues from the area’s existing architecture, borrowing its red brick construction from nearby Victorian terraced housing and its herringbone relief facade from the neighbouring pub. Windows set into a chimney-like protrusion from the roof act as a lantern at night when illuminated from within. This feature is intended to reference the chimneys of the green’s Victorian almshouses – a type of charitable housing that dates back to the 10th century. A balcony extends over the street-facing entrance and is painted bright green to match other street furniture in the redevelopment area. Signage built into the upper balustrade provides a billboard for the community centre, while a steel cut-out of Jenny Hill supports one corner. The Victorian music hall performer is buried in nearby Nunhead cemetery, and the architects felt her stage name – The Vital Spark – resonated with the project’s goal of being a catalyst for the neighbourhood’s regeneration. This front facade also features a built-in bench, noticeboard window and glass doors that offer glimpses through the building to the garden beyond. Inside, red- and green-lacquered glulam beams and Douglas fir define a series of rooms arranged around a double-height atrium and staircase. This central space is intended to provide a multi-purpose space – a cafe, foyer or performance space – which links to the kitchen at the rear. The community centre replaces two 1970s council buildings, which were forced to close due to high running costs. The centre is run by Nunhead Voice, a charitable body formed by a group of local residents and volunteers.2