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Durley Chine Environmental Hub, Bournemouth

Passivhaus certified education centre and welfare block for a beach cleaning team wins Footprint Architects 2024 RIBA South West & Wessex Building of the Year and Sustainability Awards - and Client of the Year for BCP Council

Durley Chine Environmental Hub.
Durley Chine Environmental Hub. Credit: Richard Chivers

2024 RIBA South West & Wessex Award
2024 RIBA South West & Wessex Building of the Year sponsored by EH Smith
2024 RIBA South West & Wessex Sustainability Award sponsored by Autodesk
2024 RIBA South West & Wessex Client of the Year BCP Council

Durley Chine Environmental Hub, Bournemouth
Footprint Architects for BCP Council
Contract value: £2,400,000
GIA: 196m2
Cost per m2: £3,580

Commissioned and built by the local council, this stunning new building on Bournemouth beach puts its money where its mouth is on every front. Its purpose is to affect a step change in behaviour by making the public more aware of what they are throwing away and to build a sense of environmental guardianship of the coastline. At its core is a two-storey, highly insulated, Passivhaus certified education centre and welfare block for the beach cleaning team. An array of solar panels on the roof more than offsets energy consumed, making the Hub carbon positive. On one side is a service yard and on the other a green roof shelters an outdoor education, exhibition and café terrace. The architects ensured that reuse and recycling were central to the project and any new materials were rigorously examined to select those with the lowest embodied carbon.

  • Durley Chine Environmental Hub.
    Durley Chine Environmental Hub. Credit: Richard Chivers
  • Durley Chine Environmental Hub.
    Durley Chine Environmental Hub. Credit: Richard Chivers
  • Durley Chine Environmental Hub.
    Durley Chine Environmental Hub. Credit: Richard Chivers
  • Durley Chine Environmental Hub.
    Durley Chine Environmental Hub. Credit: Richard Chivers
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On either side of Bournemouth, a continuous 10 mile arc of beach stretches from Sandbanks in the west to Hengistbury Head in the east. This attract hundreds of thousands of visitors on peak summer days. Each year the Council has to clear up 2,000 tons of litter left behind, much of it non-recyclable single-use plastic. Until now this activity has gone on quietly in the background, but the Environmental Hub at Durley Chine Beach has turned it into an educational opportunity.

The architects managed to obtain 51 tons of seasoned greenheart hardwood, salvaged from the groynes on the beach when they were dismantled for renewal. This has been used for cladding and structurally, except for the exposed posts, which required new timber. Reclaimed timber from a decommissioned German submarine base was sourced from a nearby salvage yard for the decking. Fixings are exposed, allowing for easy future disassembly. The terrace has a wonderful informality with its irregularly spaced, angled posts, and holes in the roof to let in light and rain to the planters below. The roof tilts up towards one corner, lyrically reflecting the shapes of the slumped cliff behind. Plants found growing naturally on the cliff are used on the roof and around the terrace, binding the structures into their site.

  • Durley Chine Environmental Hub.
    Durley Chine Environmental Hub. Credit: Richard Chivers
  • Durley Chine Environmental Hub.
    Durley Chine Environmental Hub. Credit: Richard Chivers
  • Durley Chine Environmental Hub.
    Durley Chine Environmental Hub. Credit: Richard Chivers
  • Durley Chine Environmental Hub.
    Durley Chine Environmental Hub. Credit: Richard Chivers
  • Durley Chine Environmental Hub.
    Durley Chine Environmental Hub. Credit: Richard Chivers
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Aesthetically the dominance of timber unites the potentially disparate elements into a unique whole that reappraises what we think of as British beachfront architecture. At one end of the terrace are two small buildings simply formed from uninsulated in-situ cast low-carbon concrete, one containing public toilets, the other a cafe servery. The concrete includes almost 80 per cent cement replacement, and the only steel reinforcement is over the openings. The surface banding was produced by differences in the formwork, abrasion and water washing of the still-wet concrete.

The council’s programme reaches out beyond the hub, engaging with local food and drink vendors to encourage them to use recyclable containers and installing over 150 water refill fountains along the beaches. Great architecture inspires and teaches. The Environmental Hub is the definition of a holistic approach, a demonstration of best practice and a catalyst for further action.

See the rest of the RIBA South West & Wessex winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor BCP - Construction Works Team

Structural engineer WSP

Environmental/M&E engineer WSP

Quantity surveyor/cost consultant Peter Gunning and Partners LLP

Acoustic engineers Impact Acoustics Ltd

Sustainability WARM

 

Credit: Richard Chivers
Credit: Richard Chivers
Credit: Richard Chivers
Credit: Richard Chivers
Credit: Richard Chivers
Credit: Richard Chivers

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