‘The Glass Mill’ in Lewisham is an imaginative and ambitious project that was designed to integrate the ‘public space’ with a residential development & create an attractive and welcoming environment for people to feel comfortable in.
The London Borough of Lewisham set out a central urban regeneration site and established a development-competition to design and construct the site. The competition was won by Barratt London and the development includes 958 apartments and houses together with commercial units, a replacement of the London City Mission and the new community sports and leisure facility.
What was made crystal clear from the inception of the project was that this development was to be of the highest standard of: • Quality • Creativity • Construction • Engagement with the local community
This demand has been driven by all parties to the scheme from the Council and Barratt London through the design teams, contractors and sub-contractors. It was also proposed, accepted and ratified by all that this building must give back to the community something that is vibrant, extraordinary and unique. The consultation demanded that the grey environment has to have a new face that reflected the vibrancy of the local community. The leisure centre took its cue from this statement – “It should not just be practical and value for money, it should be inspiring.”
The external façade to ‘The Glass Mill’ was designed in association with Phil Coy, a local artist, to create the vibrancy that would be carried through and into the building. 1,400 coloured glass buildings form a rain-screen that as lit by LEDs respond to external noise through façade mounted microphones and the lights pulsate to follow the sounds; it represents in light and colour the living sounds of the community it serves. The interior constantly refers to the site and a high, beautiful entrance includes a restaurant and park terraces. The main competition pool is an 8 lane, 25 meter environment with moveable floors; disabled lift access to enable access to as many of the residents as possible, no-one should be excluded from a community resource such as this and every effort has been made to make ‘The Glass Mill’ as inclusive as possible; spectator seating overlooks the pool area and below is the entrance to the changing areas. An additional 20m learning/teaching pool also incorporates adjustable flooring and access to the wet & dry changing rooms, by the use of black out blinds this area can be made completely private for those who require it. A full gym, sauna and steam room complement the Wellness & Treatment area along with additional facilities such as an 8.5m indoor Climbing Wall, two Dance / Exercise Studios with semi-sprung floors and air conditioning; a club room, meeting rooms and a crèche are also on site, having somewhere you trust to leave your children during a workout or swim is imperative and the crèche is invaluable in this regard. The building has been designed carefully around the human being; for them and not for the architect’s whim.
Part of the brief for this complex regeneration project involved incorporating the commercial development of apartments into the design; the servicing elements and energy centre for the entire complex were to be contained within the leisure centre without disrupting the building. The 28-storey apartment tower was therefore built into the structure and becomes one with the centre, a designed element that complements the whole, lifting the eye and demonstrating the blend of living & public space that cities of the future will be looking emulate more and more.
This also includes the linking of two new public spaces designed around the building; a paved Civic Event space alongside the Loampit Vale Road and the Cornmill Gardens leads to a large grass-covered park area to the rear of the building away from the roads. This environment can be used to hold public events, community gatherings or simply as an area for people to relax and enjoy the green space.
This is a building for the community and for the community’s regeneration; it is architecture that is designed to create happiness and provide an inclusive environment where self-respect and good feelings can develop.