Chris Dyson Architects has won a competition to design an addition to the Harrow Arts Centre in west London
The practice defeated an undisclosed shortlist to win the commission which has an estimated fee value of around £170,000. A total of 14 teams replied to Harrow Council’s invitation for expressions of interest for the job.
Principal partner Chris Dyson said: ‘Our aspiration is to design a new building with its own identity, responding to a specific programme while also sensitively complementing neighbouring heritage structures. Our intention is to create clear, legible and direct relationships with all external spaces.’
Harrow Council’s economic development officer Shehzad Ahmed said: ‘This is an exciting opportunity to work with a leading London architectural practice. We look forward to delivering an important new social amenity for the borough.’
Chris Dyson Architects is working with Webb Yates Engineers, Kinnear Landscape Architects, cost consultant PTP, and wayfinding experts Studio Emmi to deliver the project.
The architects’ view
Chris Dyson Architects’ winning response to the brief drawn up by Harrow Council evokes the style of earlier farm buildings in the area, as well as the listed adjacent school buildings and the ‘suburban vernacular’ of the wider Hatch End and Pinner area. Initial ideas include a ‘sawtooth’ roof arrangement with pitched high-level glazing aligned to the north which would allow the opposite roof slope to accommodate south-facing solar panels. The north-facing rooflights will bring a consistent level of natural light into the studio spaces. The brief calls for rooms for public use and a suite of artists’ studios/workspaces.
The L-shaped arrangement creates an attractive ‘yard’ space, with classrooms at ground level and studios above, benefiting from the northern light. The intention is to create clear, legible and direct relationships with all external spaces. The external cladding is intended to respond to the architectural language of the Royal Commercial Travellers School, the adjoining collection of industrial buildings, the boiler house, the laundry and the workshops.
The scheme will be highly energy efficient. Proposals include laminated beech lumber – 3-ply veneer layers cross-laminated to produce strong, slim beams, boards and flooring elements – will be constructed off-site and hoisted into position, reducing on-site time and improving overall construction quality. In addition, Chris Dyson Architects proposes to take advantage of an adjacent culvert river: sinking a ground source heat pump as close as possible to the adjacent culvert will harness the lower temperature generated by the tunnelled river.
The building’s ‘green’ agenda maximises solar and passive heating of the interior – low energy components, fixtures & fittings and appropriate cladding and insulation materials, will also contribute to further energy savings. Greening and biodiversity initiatives include the provision of generous external planting, easy water run-off and rainwater harvesting.