Rick Mather Architects have been appointment by the London Borough of Croydon to Masterplan and lead the detailed design for Fairfield Halls & the College Green area; creating a new Cultural Quarter in the centre of Croydon.
The scheme will see a full scale refurbishment & rework of the iconic and celebrated 1960s Fairfield Halls, which houses a 1,800 seat concert hall, 750 seat Ashcroft Theatre, gallery and conference spaces. The wider masterplan will provide a new square, new streets and new residential accommodation, transforming a key block in the city centre. The team is being led by Mott MacDonald who are providing engineering, environmental, project management and cost advice. We also have planning consultancy from Turley and landscape design from Gross Max.
Client London Borough of Croydon
Location Croydon, UK
Size 7.1 ha
Phase 1A - Completion 2018
Mixed Use Development
Mixed Use Development
Lead & Multidisciplinary Design, QS & Project Management Mott Macdonald
Masterplanning & Lead Architect Rick Mather Architects
Arts / Performance Anne Minors
Access David Bonnett
Rick Mather Architects are currently leading the design development of masterplan level guidelines to regenerate the Croydon Town Centre. As part of a large multidisciplinary team, we are designing a mixed use strategy for the site which is sensitive to the existing, and introduces activity that will underpin the town centre's leisure and visitor economy and reinforce the area's heritage as the cultural and educational heart of Croydon. RMA are working with the client to produce a delivery plan and robust planning application strategy, leading onto rapid procurement and construction phases.
The scheme is reinforced by better connections to the East Croydon rail station, the primary retail area and Queen's Gardens. High quality urban design will knit together previously separate buildings with new public realm. Lines of sight along the major routes are to be improved and a sense of place and high quality landscape introduced throughout. Our scheme creates positive external space and contributes to the public realm; similarly the new public realm address the buildings it contains, and improves service access. It also presents an exciting opportunity for Croydon College to operate from a more efficient building(s) that meets its current and future requirements.
The concept underlines the history of community and the creativity in and around, and performance on the Site. The Fair Field scheme has been progressed through an extensive period of consultation with primary stakeholders, statutory bodies and the general public. This hybrid planning application is a combined result of the team listening to comments and feedback as well as our counteraction to the current environmental, social and technical issues at Fair Field. Our proposal has primarily adopted the principles in the Fair Field Masterplan Interim Planning Guidance (IPG), established through previous stakeholders and community consultations undertaken in 2012.
Rick Mather Architects have been appointed to rescue the celebrated, but declining, Fairfield Halls with much-needed refurbished and new accommodation benefiting both front of house and back of house facilities. Fairfield Halls' mission is "to be a centre for arts, culture, entertainment and community participation with the ambition to excite, engage and entertain the people of Croydon and beyond by providing a diverse programme of artistic performances and related activities."
Fairfield Halls were built on the site of Croydon's historic "fair field" and opened in 1962. Constructed to a high technical provision and quality of materials, and strongly influenced by the Royal Festival Hall, the venue was at the forefront of the wave of new venues built during the Sixties. It replaced an outdated civic hall and a number of pre-war theatres & music halls in central Croydon. In recognition of the cultural significance of the Fairfield Halls within Croydon's history, Rick Mather Architects have taken a heritage led approach to the redevelopment of the site.
The proposals involve £30m restoration of the iconic architecture and where appropriate modernising in line with the original design intentions as revealed through our historical research. The redevelopment will create a rejuvenated sense of arrival and strengthened visual, as well as, physical link to the surrounding public realm. A new extension to the North elevation is proposed, which will create active frontage onto college green public realm, as well as creating in improved get-in arrangement, new gallery space and improved facilities for the Ashcroft Theatre. The proposals will also redress the balance of mass and transparency and improve accessibility in all senses, as well as enhance material function and life cycle, thereby reducing maintenance and running costs.
Working with the client and users, the team was strongly encouraged to develop proposals in the national context of declining funding for the arts. Extensive analysis, options appraisals including iterative design development with regular cost, delivery and programme review have emphasised intervention that increases revenue with a plan to grow employment and variety of cultural offers as Croydon grows through a period of very rapid change. There has been an emphasis on short term deliverability, alongside long term planning, in the context of the original brief and it's objectives.
We are developing designs for London's largest independent underground gallery as part of the Phase 1 works. The project will create a striking new gallery space to accommodate a strong arts programme and facilitate a range of cultural and community activities. The home for this new 2,000m2 gallery exists largely in the existing underused subterranean car park structure beneath College Green, and is accessed via a new glazed cloister. The Gallery adjoins a new Croydon School of Art and Fairfield Halls, and will create a new urban arts venue which will play a vital role within the rejuvenated complex at Fair Field as well as the vision for Croydon's Cultural Quarter.
Since appointed Rick Mather Architects have been in discussions with Croydon Art College, Fairfield Halls, and Rise Gallery amongst other stakeholders with an aim for this project to become a catalyst for an innovative and selfsustaining regeneration of the area, through the transfer of an underutilised space to a new arts and community facility for Croydon.
Key to the Gallery's success will be flexibility of use for the community, and the proposed design recognises this by creating an expansive space which can adapt to host museum standars shows and large scale events from cinematic screenings, concerts, theatrical performances and large-scale art installations to intimate gatherings, workshops and exhibitions.
As part of the Phase 1 works Rick Mather Architects are developing designs for new homes on the Fair Field site. The proposed scheme is subsequent to the adopted Fair Field Masterplan (2012), which identified a strong need for high quality residential development in central Croydon. The proposals create a development which is sensitive to the current and future site configuration in order to support the sustainable growth of the new community.
The new residential development sets up a new threshold and progressive transition between high/medium density character areas close to the station and the Croydon centre and more suburban in character areas around. It looks for reference and inspiration at successful high rise typologies arriving in Central Croydon but also at low rise, hidden quality developments in the immediate proximity, like the highly inspirational architecture defining the St. Bernards Conservation Area within the Park Hill Area. A new sequence of open spaces and buildings is proposed by integrating and improving existing routes into and around the site.
The development is comprised of two distinct building groups, which create 194 new homes, and a coherent and cohesive streetscape. A sheltered communal landscape is defined by the blocks, and stepped terraces, balconies and roof gardens introduce a series of vertical visual connections into the courtyard. The configuration ensures multiple views in and out of the site, adding to the sense of permeability and security, and maximising daylight to the development. The unit layouts are efficiently designed to meet or exceed all relevant standards.