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Brixton House, Brixton

Words:
RIBA Regional Jury

Home to the Ovalhouse Theatre and an open house for community use, Brixton House by Foster Wilson Size is a welcoming and intuitive building that works hard to reflect its setting

Brixton House. Hufton + Crow
Brixton House. Hufton + Crow

RIBA South West London Regional Award winner

Brixton House, Brixton
Foster Wilson Size for London Borough of Lambeth / Brixton House
Contract value: £18m
GIA: 5300m2
Cost per m2: £3,396

As the new home of Ovalhouse Theatre, Brixton House is a project which works hard to reflect its setting and location. The building is designed to express its ethos as a place of creative theatre and a welcoming and open house to be used by everyone in the local community.

A strong presence on the street frontage echoes elements of the surrounding area and its industrial heritage. The well-considered massing looks to the future to act as a bookend to a planned adjacent housing development, while a slight set-back to the west of the site pays homage to a popular mural on an adjacent building. Historical features, such as the fireplaces in the atrium, are retained and showcased. A strong emphasis has been placed on the quality of execution, with subtle yet practical details incorporated across the facade design, and external lighting that brings the building to life at night and reflects the performance inside.

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The building is intuitive to use and embraces clear and strong wayfinding. A welcoming entrance lobby features a fuchsia pink cantilevered staircase, acting as a main thoroughfare for visitors, staff, and students. As the stairwell rises through the building, it highlights different occupiers before finally reaching a detailed mural by local artist Damilola Odusote which covers the central lift core.

The judges particularly recognised the attention paid by the design team and client to accessibility, which extends to back-of-house performance areas such as the rigging. This emphasises and supports strong community connections and well-considered teaching and SEN spaces. The collaborative approach taken with creative startups is also to be applauded, as is the robust environmental strategy that has been implemented. The all-electric building produces a high proportion of the energy used on site from a rooftop solar array, with very high levels of insulation, natural ventilation, and solar control, and minimal heating requirements. Newly planted trees give canopy cover at pavement level, and add to biodiverse terrace roof planting. Construction materials including a lightweight steel frame and aluminium rainscreen have been chosen for their ability to be recycled.

See the rest of the RIBA North East winners here. And all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

If you want to understand the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com

RIBA Regional Awards 2023 sponsored by GaggenauEH Smith and Autodesk

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Client London Borough of Lambeth / Brixton House 
Contractor Galliford Try
Structural engineer Conisbee
Environmental / M&E engineer Dodd Group
Quantity surveyor / cost consultant Currie & Brown
Project management Capita
Principal designer Turner & Townsend
Acoustic engineer Gillieron Scott Acoustic Design
Landscape engineer Hyland Edgar Driver
Theatre consultant Charcoalblue 
Graphics and branding D237

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