Community project shortlisted for CIAT Award

The AT Awards celebrate architectural technology at its finest, awarding premier accolades that recognise outstanding achievement in the industry.

Entrants are assessed based on their innovative application of architectural technology, with a set trio of criteria: economical construction, environmental sustainability, and durable performance. The Alan King Award for Excellence in Architectural Technology is awarded to the project that best meets these objectives, for a total cost of no greater than £750,000.

This year the six finalists are: The Grange by Stuart Davidson Architecture; Belmont Place, by PiP; Scarth Craig, by Roundhouse Architecture Ltd; Stead Street, Eckington, by France and Associates; Old Gale Farm, Ambleside, by John Coward Architects Ltd; and The Hall, Cherington, Stourton and Sutton under Brailes.

More than a Village Hall

The Village Hall Committee had an ambitious brief for ArchiWildish, as the committee didn’t want a village hall like any other that might be seen in a typical English community.

They wanted the hall to be self-funding, so that ongoing operating expenses would be covered by its use as a local event venue. The hall therefore had to be both practical and attractive, with room and facilities for a multitude of different uses.

The layout had to be versatile too. A space that could serve as a meeting place for clubs and societies as well as a desirable space for weddings and other hired events.

A Community Effort

The old hall, which was originally built in the 1920’s, had become unsafe and was largely unusable. The local community came together to start fundraising and were hugely successful raising £300,000 through their own efforts, and then were granted the remaining £500,000 from the Lottery.

With a total of £800,000 in funding in place, the trustees of the hall committee then surveyed the households in all the local villages, to find out what residents required from their new village hall.

“The project was built within its £700,000 build cost budget and delivered on time by the builder. It has received much local publicity and is being well used helping to strengthen the community bond and addressing the issue of rural isolation for elderly residents”.

Throughout the design process, ArchiWildish had continually gone back to the community for input. The local communities were highly invested in the development of the new hall, and given the nature of the project, it was important that they were included in the design process.

Community project The Hall, Cherington, Stourton and Sutton under Brailes
3D cutaway of ArchiWildish’s community project The Hall, Cherington, Stourton and Sutton under Brailes

The requirement to keep the community involved made ARCHICAD an incredibly useful tool. While the initial proof of concept was hand drawn, all subsequent design work and presentations were done using ARCHICAD and BIMx. Model based design and mobile communication made it easy for Mark to communicate his design intent to the Village Hall Committee and community residents. With this level of collaboration required between ArchiWildish and the community, ARCHICAD was invaluable.

“The hotchpotch nature of traditional agricultural buildings allows for varying roof heights, wall materials etc. to come together to form the overall building without it initially striking you as a typical village hall building, blending the building into its environment and setting”.

From start to finish, The Hall project has been about collaboration and community, and about taking the time to ensure that the end result was something that all members of the community could agree and enjoy.

Design Considerations

A number of essential elements had to be considered in the development of The Hall designs, to ensure that the hall would meet the community’s needs, and also to ensure that local authorities would approve the project.

“A new hall to be smart, functional and adaptable to a multitude of uses”.

Gaining approval for the project had to be approached with care, because at the time, the Local Plan did not support new housing developments in the village. Part of the projects funding was contingent on redeveloping the old hall’s site for residential use, and the new hall was slated for construction on existing farmland. Because of these two factors, having a high-quality design was crucial, to ensure the planners would accept the proposal under “exceptional circumstances”.

Community project The Hall, Cherington, Stourton and Sutton under Brailes
Roofing layout of ArchiWildish’s community project The Hall

ArchiWildish achieved this goal with a design that gives the completed hall the appearance of a traditional stone barn, converted for a new purpose. This innovative approach resulted in a building that’s attractive and appealing. And, although the hall is a large building situated in a rural area, it’s not obtrusive at all. The use of a variety of construction materials including local stone and slate means that the building fits perfectly into its surroundings.

“It was decided that that the design should appear as though it was a converted traditional stone barn considering its location and context, plus the ambitions of the design brief to be an attractive and appealing building”.

One of the most important considerations for the design was flexibility. Following consultation, the hall needed to meet the current needs of residents, but must also be flexible enough that the community’s future needs too. Marks design includes an entrance with a coffee area, an exhibition zone, a separate meeting room, an arts space and a storage area.

The building’s primary event space is the main hall, a spacious and inviting space with a high ceiling and plenty of natural light. Facilities include a kitchen, bathrooms and changing areas, along with a portable “kitchen on wheels” that can be moved around as required.

For Current and Future Generations

The Hall at Cherrington, Stourton, and Sutton under Brailes replaces a village hall that was almost one hundred years old. With the local community heavily involved in fundraising, and providing valuable input into the design process, The Hall is truly a collaborative effort, one that has brought the communities together, and can continue to do so for generations to come.

The innovative design developed by Mark Wildish of ArchiWildish Ltd ensures that the building is just as much an architectural achievement as it is a community one, hence why it has been shortlisted for The Alan King Award for Excellence in Architectural Technology.