Ashford Gateway

Ashford Borough Council, Community Building of the Year

The Ashford Gateway was commissioned by Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council to house an array of public services, including a library, adult education centre, register office and café. The call was for an iconic and energy-efficient new civic building which would relate to its urban context and the adjacent Town Centre Conservation Area.

The task was to combine all specific functional room requirements of each organisation within one building, while keeping within the target total floor area and budget. This outcome was achieved by detailed analysis of the needs for five principal organisations and the times of day that these were required. Certain spaces were designed around specific facilities and uses, while other rooms are multi-functional and available for use by different organisations at different times.

The building, which opened in 2011, is constructed utilising render to echo adjacent buildings; and its massing steps down on the south wing to coincide with the residential scale of nearby streets. The entrance relates directly to the axis of the town’s Memorial Gardens opposite. A single-sided atrium with its unique staircase links the three main floors of the building. The design challenge of an acute-angled corner to the south was resolved by the inclusion of a rotundaA green roof provides biodiversity and energy-saving measures, including solar hot water, photovoltaics, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery and solar glass to combat solar gain, which all contributed to making the building sustainable.