Distinct and generous youth space
what if: projects ltd for Havering Council
Location: Rainham, Essex
These community driven and run projects of public realm improvement, building refurbishment and extension, form part of Rainham’s urban regeneration. Designers and community groups, together with Havering council staff, worked together to deliver projects that mend this gateway site into Rainham village in a coherent way. Both schemes, in their realisation, actively engaged with local stakeholders, user groups and the wider community.
Remodelling of the existing Royals Youth Centre, in combination with improvements to public space on its doorstep has created a new northern entrance to Rainham Village in what was formerly an inocuous 2-storey building of two function rooms. The refurbishment created practical space and new facilities for the Royals, whilst giving it a new identity that marks it out as a community asset and is now able to accommodate both young and old, from Rainham, Dagenham and Purfleet.
The new enterprise space is the most distinct element, within the roof extension and cantilevering over the main entrance. It provides for a youth programme for 16 year olds, offering educational training to school leavers. A generously glazed corner gives users a vantage point from where to overlook the village and the public space on their doorstep. Working with young people from the Royals, this has been turned into a pocket park, with new seating and areas for events and picnics.
This space, with its installation ‘Railing Hall’ by Mark Pimlott, was adjusted, on a small budget to make it more user friendly and green, introducing a soft buffer along the street edge, meadow areas, new trees, benches and a stage. A colourful timber screen with integrated seating has replaced the existing perimeter fence. This provides a backdrop for interpretive graphics and text such as plaques identifying the species planted in the square or wayfinding to other local green spaces.