Sure Starts, Durham – JDDK Architects
Durham County Council have ensured the third and final phase of the Governments’ Surestart Development fund, which ended in March this year, has been put to its most cost-effective use with refurbishments and a new build project to five of the County’s schemes which show how good design can transform existing buildings, opening them up for new and improved use.
Designed by award-winning Newcastle-based architects, Jane Darbyshire & David Kendall (JDDK) Ltd, the schemes have all been brought in for capital costs of less than £500,000 each, yet have transformed the individual facility mainly with extensions and internal alterations allowing the reconfiguration of internal spaces whilst sustainable design has produced light filled and naturally ventilated spaces.
These projects represent the final tranche of Surestart funding as the scheme and its central Government funding has been re-organised under the new Government. Paula Rae, Extended Services Manager, Durham County Council, explained the rationale behind the projects, “We were crucially aware that this was the last chance for us to access this stream of funding and were determined that the limited funds available would give the maximum benefit to the people of Durham. We therefore prioritised five existing centres, which we had identified as no longer fit for purpose and briefed the architects with our aims.”
Whilst the schemes at Sherburn, Wheatley Hill, Stanley and Pelton involved refurbishment of and extensions to existing centres, it was felt that demolition of the converted bungalow previously being used for outreach support in Barnard Castle and its’ replacement by a purpose built facility would be more cost effective Located adjacent to Clare House on a highly prominent site within the town, the resultant building is a contemporary structure yet contextually in keeping with its surroundings.
“Working very closely with the Planning Authorities, partly due to the site’s prominent location, we’ve created a low level sustainable building with a sedum roof and clear-storey glazing which allows a huge amount of natural light in but is shaded by cedar brie solaire panels to prevent overheating. Inside we have approximately 150 square metres of space which Can be subdivide into different configurations but includes an adult training room, crèche area, reception, office and toilets”, JDDK Project Architect, Stuart Franklin.
One feature which has already attracted a great deal of positive attention from adults and children alike are the ‘creeps’ for small children which jut out of the building like mini bay windows. Based on the Emilio Reggio principles of designing spaces for children’s education, stimulation and wellbeing, these are child-sized protrusions into which children can go to create their own space.
Whilst the new build Barnard Castle facility cost just under £500,000, the refurbishment at Laurel Avenue in Sherburn cost £360,000 and involved the creation of two new extensions which allowed the reconfiguration of the internal layout. Adjacent to Laurel Avenue Primary school and used as a training centre and for medical purposes, the office and stores extensions have allowed the internal space to be reconfigured whilst externally, new render and cedar cladding has created almost a new building.
“Projects like the Surestart Centres, although relatively small in size, really do show the benefits on close consultation with both our clients and the end users to ensure we understand exactly what is required of the building and can then come back with a design that exceeds their expectations. The consultation carries on right through the construction period so that we can produce exactly what is wanted – it’s a long process but it’s our way of delivery”, Stuart Franklin.