The minimisation of energy requirements and provision of fresh air and daylight were important to the council, which didn’t wish to sacrifice comfort while housed in a temporary structure. Constructed on a site which was once council car-parking and in the centre of the Bermondsey Spa Regeneration Area in South East London, the project is situated between two Grade II listed council buildings: the former Library and the Bermondsey Town Hall. A set of listed gates at the front of the site had been moved when the carpark was built, and their preservation and use was considered vital, so consultation with English Heritage and the council’s conservation officers ensured smooth progress to planning consent. Organized as a prefabricated, free-standing pavilion with 875sqm of flexible space covered by a lightweight roof, the building has seven triangular trusses of 22.5m covering the main central space supported on a slender circular column, expressing externally as dramatic undulating waves.
The building is designed to the high standards expected of a permanent structure but with inherent flexibility. As a flagship building for the council the architecture needed a welcoming sense, achieved through a clear entrance, a dramatic canopy and sightlines into the heart of the space from the street. Set back slightly on the site so as not to dominate, the architecture respects the listed buildings to either side with a simple and inviting structure. To reduce energy requirements and provide a naturally fresh environment the building is serviced by a subfloor ventilation system and pivoting aluminium vents in the glazed front and rear facades. Large volumes of fresh air percolate at low velocity, complementing the daylit space to provide a soft and welcoming environment for staff and visitors. Ancillary accommodation – interview rooms and services – is situated around the edges of the pavilion leaving the central area free of obstruction and highly adaptable.
The pavilion was initially erected in 2005, and moved recently to a new location in a market square, The Blue.