MacEwan longlist: The Green Man

Sustainable and accessible - turning an office into a community

Black Architecture for Phoenix Community Housing

Location: Lewisham, London

The Green Man is the culmination of a promise made in 2007 by Phoenix Community Housing to residents to create a new headquarters at the core of their community.

During consultation it became clear that residents desired much more than an office; they wanted a heart that would provide a real focal point and spur wider regeneration of South Lewisham.

Black Architecture adopted a market hall typology that brought all of the community functions together. Behind this very simple concept is a well-developed design that evolved following a detailed analysis of the community's needs.

Open plan offices at first floor are linked to the ground floor community uses via an atrium. This ensures staff who serve their community are not hidden away. The atrium allows the north light to penetrate into the core of the ground floor, to the community functions.

The building replaced a derelict public house with a community café, training kitchen, Lewisham Plus Credit Union and venue space alongside office space for Phoenix's 150 staff.

The building is communal, rather than civic, and up to August 2015 has welcomed more than 40,000 visitors. Start-up business are beginning to use the social enterprise spaces and a range of training courses run for residents teach skills and offer recreational pursuits.

The Green Man has hosted Zumba classes, job and internet clubs, conferences, business breakfasts, exhibitions and parties. It has so far been hired externally for more than 1,500 hours, offering a new focus and identity for residents in the area.

It's created 20 new jobs and apprenticeships in an area where more than 15% of working age residents receives workless benefits and 40% of children live in poverty.

The BREEAM Excellent building is inherently sustainable and accessible, criteria that Black Architecture considered from first principles, and places the wellbeing of occupants at the centre of the design. Long term The Green Man will evolve with the community.


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