Caspian Cultural Centre Borough of Ealing, New West London architecture design, Planning Consent England
Caspian Cultural Centre in the Borough of Ealing, London
25 January 2024
Design: GRID Architects
Location: Acton, Borough of Ealing, west London, England, UK
CGIs © GRID Architects
Caspian Cultural Centre, London
GRID Architects secure planning consent on Caspian Cultural Centre
Planning consent has been granted for a new home for the Caspian Cultural Centre (CCC) and the Library for Iranian studies in Acton, designed by GRID Architects. The Caspian Cultural Centre and the Library of Iranian Studies are a charity under the oversight of the UK Charity Commission housing more than 50,000 books and manuscripts, covering a broad range of topics from and about Persianate culture – the largest collection outside of the region.
The proposals replace the charities existing premises on the site adjacent to Woodlands Park which has been their home for more than 30 years, but is in a state of disrepair and no longer fit for purpose. The charity is proud of their role in the local community and part of the brief was to maximise the visual accessibility of their new facility. Creating a welcoming community building, the ground floor café opens onto a park side terrace while an open double height atrium contains community and library spaces that can also be used for functions. The first floor will provide more library space, a seminar room, and shared and individual research and reading areas. The basement contains the book archives, plant, bikes and refuse.
The new cultural hub will boost the local economy and serve as an educational centre that welcomes people in, providing activities and learning opportunities centred around the region’s rich and diverse history, which stretches back over 5,000 years.
Funds for constructing the cultural centre is generated by the 105 new student rooms above the centre, comprising a mix of studios and cluster flats. Students benefit from use of the study space within the cultural centre, with further shared student amenity spaces on the top floor with stunning views over the park.
GRID was encouraged by planning and design officers through the pre-application process to develop an architecture which displayed the buildings community function, whilst referencing the charities’ unique purpose and heritage. The staggered façade is strongly articulated with overlapping pointed arches, a subtle nod to the gothic arch and a playful fusion between the Persian style and neo-gothic influences that dominate the local area. The building is clad in a light buff brick which seeks to create a visual harmony with the surrounding local housing, while green ceramic tiles, pigmented concrete and bespoke metalwork add visual interest and contemporary flair. Windows to the rooms have opening vents behind water cut screens, and the top floor of student amenity crowns uses the overlapping Persian arches.
The interior design of the Cultural Centre, designed by GRID Interiors, continues the subtle Persian influences in the proposed material palette, screens and architectural metalwork. creating a coherent and cohesive experience.
At the Crown Street edge and the park frontage to the lobby and café, carefully designed hard landscaping and granite pavers will be introduced in an offset pattern to the activate the frontage. Elsewhere, wildflower planting will run along the edge where the site meets The Woodlands Park. New trees and planting within the park and landscaping provide a net gain in biodiversity.
Since GRID’s original planning submission in 2021, significant changes have been made to guidance on fire safety from the London Fire Brigade and the London Plan. Although under 30m, to future proof the design, a secondary staircase with EVAC lift was added.
To accommodate the fire safety changes while maintaining the strong character of the proposed development, there has been a slight reduction in office space and overall area, yet there is no loss of functionality to the cultural centre, library, seminar rooms, and student accommodation. The new plans provide two protected means of escape, alongside a firefighting lift/EVAC lift lobby, together with a relocated main entrance to a more prominent location on the park, creating both a safer and more active opportunity for engaging passers-by with the work of the charity.
GRID’s design thread’s themes of openness, research and cultural research throughout the building. The purpose-built space is future proofed against expansion of the collection, educational seminars, and public access to reading space. The new Caspian Cultural Centre will crucially help to expand public participation and engagement with the charity, while helping them to realise their goal of building greater understanding of the cultural heritage and significance from the region.
Laurence Osborn, Director at GRID Architects said:
“After 18 long months, this planning success is the result of extended discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, and a client who had the vision to develop a visibly inviting building that will bring significant benefits the community, including local businesses and the student population. Our design does this and helps to raise the profile of the charitable trust and safely secure the future of its historic and culturally valuable collection.”
Caspian Cultural Centre in the Borough of Ealing, London – Building Information
Architect: GRID Architects – https://www.gridarchitects.co.uk/
Client: Carolla Group
Location: London Borough of Ealing
Use: Library and student accommodation
Size: 876 sqm public library and hall, and 105 student rooms
Start on site (anticipated): Q1 2024
GIA Cultural Centre/Café: 876 sqm
GIA Ancillary: 307 sqm
Construction cost: TBC
Project Manager: Equals Consulting
Quantity Surveyor: Equals Consulting
Structural Engineer: WSP
Services Engineer: WSP
Fire Engineer: WSP
Environmental Consultant: Greenbuild Consult
Acoustic Consultant: WSP
Planning Consultant: NTA Planning
Heritage Consultant: N/A
Arbo culturalist: Crown Tree Consultancy
Landscape Architect: GRID Landscape
Transport Consultant: WSP
Award winning, London based studio, GRID Architects are a group of architects and interior designers that create thoughtful designs for large-scale projects around the country. The practice takes a stance that design should be intelligent and purposeful; shaped around the people who use a space; those who live, work and play under its roof or in its gardens.
GRID work across all scales and a range of sectors, from urban masterplans through to the bridges, residential & mixed-use, to conversion & re-use, and leisure & cultural sectors.
Images © GRID Architects
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