[FIRST LOOK + PLANS] Work has begun on Mangera Yvars’ long-awaited community centre in Harrow, North London
The scheme, which won planning back in 2010, will provide learning, recreational and meditation spaces for the local community.
Designed as a ‘cultural embassy’, the building contains a library, creative hub, prayer and exhibition space, kindergarten and conference facilities alongside a basement sports hall.
Due to a culverted river on the site, the scheme had to be separated into two halves and is arranged around a central courtyard.
The scheme’s filigree exterior cladding has been inspired by Olbrich’s Vienna Secession Building and makes reference to patterns from Isfagan, the Maasai Mara, William Morris and suburban Harrow.
The architect’s view
‘The scheme was commissioned by a client group consisting of East African Muslim community of Indian descent who had migrated to the UK in the 1970’s. From the offset, our aim was to develop a ‘cultural embassy’ which would provide community space accessible to all Harrow residents regardless of faith.
‘Key to the requirement of the brief was to create spaces where groups of different ethnicity, ages and backgrounds come together and how the architecture might reflect this.
‘The filigree and ornamentation on the building’s façade is related in part to Olbrich’s Vienna Secession Building and in part to our attempt to create a cultural building which has emerged from the British multi-cultural tradition for which we remain profoundly optimistic.
‘The patterning on the building’s façade describes a narrative which depicts through geometric patterns the migration and integration of the client group from Persia to India, East Africa and finally to England. Patterns from Isfahan, the Delhi Red Fort, the Maasai Mara as well as William Morris are interwoven into the building fabric making reference to the Arts and Crafts semi-utopic vernacular of suburban Harrow also known as John Betjeman’s Metroland.’