The New Generation (TNG) Youth and Community Centre

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The New Generation (TNG) Youth and Community Centre

Showcasing innovative sustainable construction and high-quality design, The New Generation (TNG) Youth and Community Centre, a £3.5m new-build venue designed by RCKa, was funded by the UK’s last Labour government's MyPlace scheme, and provides a range of vocational, leisure and support services for the young people of Lewisham, South London.

RCKa worked closely with Lewisham Council, its partners and the local community. The project features the extensive participation of young people, from initial consultation through to detailed design, construction, management and governance of the building and services.

Central to their shared vision was the creation of a democratic and flexible building that responds to the changing demands of its occupants. A dramatic central space resolves complex site levels and forms a vibrant heart to a building that engages and welcomes visitors, and is alive with activity and opportunity. The resulting state-of-the-art building includes a climbing wall, training kitchen and café, multi-use games area, recording studios, health clinic, dance and performance spaces, teaching and conference rooms and an IT suite.

TNG is conceived as an open piece of architecture for young people and local community groups to inhabit and make their own. A consistent structural grid runs throughout the building, defining rooms and wall openings, whilst measuring and ordering large open plan areas.

A triple-height wintergarden on the east side of the building is crossed with high-level balconies that provide vital breakout space for all key uses. It acts as a thermal and physical buffer to the external multi-use games area, with surfaces left unfinished to encourage a wider range of uses than possible within the main building, whilst providing as much space as possible within the tight budget.

The main interior presents a warm palette of welcoming materials, with complementary painted joinery and signage. The building's expansive interior feels comfortable regardless of the number of inhabitants, making it suitable for use by small groups, many multiple users or large community gatherings. Dramatic open spaces, top-lit by large ETFE rooflights, visually connect all levels of the building with viewing points and stage-like staircases.

The building is constructed of cross-laminated wood. Internally the timber is exposed and treated with a subtle white wash and set against a robust linoleum floor in a warm-grey chequerboard pattern and, in key spaces, a textured rustic oak. The timber-paneled carcass is punctured through walls and ceiling with large dramatic openings to maximise natural daylight and frame long views through and out of the building, locating the user within the building and wider landscape.

Externally, the building is clad in a lightweight, translucent polycarbonate rainscreen with a gently undulating profile. At street level where the building required a more robust finish, ultra-high performance pre-cast concrete panels cast from moulds of the profiled polycarbonate above, are hung from the building. This combination of light refractive and reflective panels form elegant curtain-like elevations that are framed with bright crisp aluminium surrounds. The ductal® concrete, used for the first time at this scale in the UK, is both durable and beautiful.

Its success and popularity with young people in particular has far exceeded expectation. This is testament to the ambition of the London Borough of Lewisham and the approach of the design team, which placed users and the local community at the heart of the design, briefing and governance process.


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