A building that will last a lifetime would be a desire for any designer as it leaves a legacy for future generations to admire. This project looks to respond to the controversial Brustalist Assembly Rooms building in Derby, that presents this scenario of loved vs loathed, in the hope of bringing a new ‘life’ to this 44-year-old civic building.
Located in the Derby Market Place, the Assembly Rooms, by Casson Condor Architects, has been vacant since 2014, due to a fire on the adjacent car park, consequentially leaving Derby without a performance venue. Instead of refurbishing the Brutalist building, that uses a raw concrete frame structure and distinct forms, the City Council have decided to demolish without a realistic plan for its replacement. Countering this decision with an alternative proposal was the desire for this project, in ensuring the building is celebrated and incorporates an intervention to reconnect the community, becoming an urban regenerator.
Key issues with the site were identified from the offset to ensure that it is respected, and a retrofitting approach, alongside an extension, was applied. The proposed large glazed foyer links each of the performing spaces, taking away the unpleasant courtyard and instead adding a layer of permeability with a clear entrance. The broken connection of the Cathedral Green to the city, through a bisecting road, was addressed with a new theatre, allowing users to interact and enjoy nature, by extending the green space. The negative impact on the environment that demolishing the existing car park causes was tackled, by using locally sourced timber for the structure and stone for cladding, complimenting the existing framework and made for disassembly so it can be repurposed and adapted, if ever required.
Regenerating this site throughout the day was applied with the use of recreating the outdoor market and activating frontages with a hydroponic growing unit, providing further income for the council. Bringing the community into the proposed spaces and allowing them to hire for, events, rehearsals and meetings, the Civic building becomes highly active and creates a newly enhanced experience, in the hope that the public rebuild their pride for the existing structure that demonstrates a part of the city’s history.