Monday, 6 June 2011

Market Bosworth Parish Hall.

After 3 years, we finally managed to get the planning application lodged for the Market Bosworth Parish Hall and were very humbled to see our project featured in the local press last month.

The project simply started off as an enquiry made by one of my clients in 2008, who asked if we'd be interested in attending a committee meeting to offer some ideas and if possible, some indication of build costs for extending the existing facility.

I was delighted with the invitation and accepted gratefully, only to discover the meeting was later that evening. In preparation of sourcing material to discuss at such short notice, David at our office offered to assemble a sketch up visual whilst I prepared a quick sketch plan. Google Maps was our saviour.

The site is in the heart of Market Bosworth, which is an ancient historic village in the East Midlands considered to be the jewel in the crown of Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council; the site is in Conservation Area and the two properties adjacent are both listed. The existing facility is a 1930s structure that carries an air of institutional form, and can be easily overlooked when passing by.

Being fully aware of the constraints of location and pre-empting the responses that may be given by the Local Planning Authority, our starting point of design was quite clear - 'Institutional and Robust'.

By 6:30pm, with little time given to 'essential' design input we were all printed and ready go; we hesitated, stood back and looked at the visual. Whilst we knew this form and style seemed to be the 'right direction', it wasn't refined adequately and a wave of great uncertainty loomed followed by panic. We were out of time and wanted to abort and redesign.  Aaahhhhh, we couldn't! So, it was make or break time.

So David and I pressed ahead and presented the scheme and were greeted with a mixed response of 'oh my God!', 'oooh' and 'uummm?'. The general arrangement plan worked, which was sufficient to get our foot in the door on the basis that a more contemporary scheme was to be explored. An energized redesigned ensued.

Following further client meetings, the external treatment of materials was greeted favourably and discussions on internal amendments steered the external elevations being reconfigured.

Whilst the scheme now echoed the client's preferred layout and external appearance, we approached the Local Planning Authority, only to be greeted with 'it's too modern'! 

We were asked to be more sympathetic with the vernacular, and assembled a few options which echoed proportions and materials of the properties next and opposite the hall.

But 'sigh'....still the latest amendments weren't quite hitting the right key notes for the client due to maintenance issues and something of a regress in design. We ensued a different approach that echoed the current hall style of post modernism, and approach that was greeted tentatively by the client committee but as predicted, the Local Planning Authority resisted.

With few avenues left to explore I met the conservation officer and tabled all the options we had explored and requested the officers direction. He explained that an unprovokative looking building would be preferable, which needed to simply blend into the vernacular and carry an institutional form; symmetry was important.

Having glanced through the options, he promptly pointed to our initial vizual and with conviction and excitement 'THIS is what we're seeking!' I was astonished and somewhat relieved; we finally had direction!

This was great news for the committee and all we now had to do, was reconfigure the floor layouts to suit a central entrance location as governed by the symmetrical facade along Park St.

A few internal reconfigurations took place and a design finally welcomed by all parties was delivered.

It's not been the easiest journey to date, however, it's very fulfilling to be part of a project that will continue to serve the local people for the next three or four generation. I guess the moral of this little story for Architects, is to adhere to ones original thoughts and go forth with conviction!