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Theis + Khan's contest-winning Sevenoaks plans finally move ahead

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Theis + Khan Architects has revealed its latest, revised proposals for a new community centre in Sevenoaks – more than two and a half years after winning a high-profile competition for the job

The Tunbridge Wells-based practice has unveiled updated plans for a new community and conference centre next to Sevenoaks’ Bat & Ball railway station.

The practice, which was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in 2010, saw off Tim Ronalds Architects, White Arkitekter, dRMM and Ian McChesney to win the job in June 2015.

More than 70 practices entered the Sevenoaks Town Council-backed  competition to find an architect to design a new facility to replace a run-down, 30-year-old building in Otford Road.

Teams were asked to draw up plans for a building providing a 250-seat events space, kitchen area, nursery facility, WCs and staff room plus new council offices on the first floor.

Theis + Khan’s scheme features a ‘Kentish garden’ at its heart with the buildings wrapped around it ‘to create a community feel’.

Theis and Khan's original competition winning scheme pictured left; the revised proposals on the right

Theis + Khan’s original competition winning scheme pictured left; the revised proposal on the right

Theis and Khan’s original competition winning scheme pictured left; the revised proposals on the right

The judges praised the design for the way it welcomed visitors from the station and the how it addressed the movement of people through the building.

The latest phased scheme features a revised layout and form intended to deliver ‘as economic as possible’ a solution for the challenging triangle-shaped site.

Proposed rooflights over the council chamber and community hall have been developed to echo Kentish oast houses – an idea put forward at competition stage, which the client was keen to implement.

The new scheme is expected to be submitted for planning this summer (2018).

Since winning the contest the practice has also been commissioned by the same client to transform the neighbouring Bat & Ball Station into a new community café with rooms for hire. The project won planning permission in July and is due to start on site in March.

In October, the RIBA launched a separate international contest for a new flagship £2 million visitor centre at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, a short distance from the station.

The Nature and Wellbeing Centre project will deliver a visitor centre featuring a reception area, café, shop, WCs, 100-capacity flexible space, catering kitchen, exhibition area, offices and treatment rooms.

The shortlist

  • de Rijke Marsh Morgan Architects (dRMM ), London
  • Ian McChesney, London
  • Theis + Khan Architects, Kent
  • Tim Ronalds Architects, London
  • White Arkitekter, Sweden
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