Barking Learning Centre

Essex, Barking. 2007

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 2007
  • Cost: £38 Million

In reinventing an aging public library into a modern social hub below six floors of new housing, Barking Learning Centre plays a key role in the urban regeneration of Barking’s town centre. This mixed-use building – the first phase of Barking Central – is composed of distinct segments; a U-shaped block of apartments perches atop a colonnade of v-shaped props, which lines the two-storey ‘plinth’ occupied by the Learning Centre. The plinth extends in a west wing containing a small gallery and classrooms, and defining the southern edge of the new Town Square, into which the Learning Centre’s new uses spill. On its exterior, the building derives its identity from patterns: repeating balconies animate the residential façades with colour and depth while the library’s mosaic skin of aluminium and glazed panels loosely wraps the existing structure to create new double-height interstitial spaces for entry, exhibition and repose. The ground floor’s informal layout encourages diverse use by the community, while the 246 one and two bedroom apartments above bring activity to the area across all hours.


British Construction Industry Awards: Local Authority Award 2008 European Prize for Public Urban Space 2008 MIPIM Best Mixed Use Award 2007

Related Projects

This project is the first phase of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris’ re-development of Barking Central I for their client Redrow Regeneration & London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. The scheme comprises of 246 one and two bedroom flats in two new six storey blocks sitting above the two floors of a totally revitalised and extended library. The library now has the much wider function of a lifelong learning centre (Barking Learning Centre) with 5,800 m² of accommodation. The BLC was part funded and supported by the University of East London, Barking College and Barking Libraries.

The new learning centre accommodation includes ICT suites, conference facilities, a one-stop-shop, café, art gallery and classrooms as well as the library facilities. The elevation of the learning centre is clad in a large scale mosaic of glass and aluminium panels designed to retain views in and out of the building whilst responding to the insulation and ventilation requirements of the Building Regulations. This new skin wraps around the existing library creating new double height spaces for the entrance, gallery and library and forming two sides of a new Town Hall Square designed by Landscape Architect muf architecture / art.

The north residential block, supported on a colonnade of V columns, is mainly one bedroom flats arranged on each floor either side of a linear corridor. The south block has a similar plan, but with two bedroom apartments on the south expressed on the elevation by their longer balconies. The north and south elevations of the blocks above have a  smaller scale mosaic in a shimmering silver rainscreen cladding punctured by staggered balconies. The balconies are coloured green at the east end of the elevation shading to yellow at the west. Between the two parallel blocks the elevations change to a white self-coloured render with white balconies looking down onto the Grant Associates sky garden, together creating an unexpected and tranquil environment for residents in the heart of Barking.

Sustainability Features

•  The scheme achieves 10% renewables through the solar thermal panels on the Residential roof.

•  There is a brown roof to the residential and a green sedum roof to the BLC

•  The residential windows are triple glazed

•  The BLC is naturally ventilated with night time cooling

•  Existing Library Structure was retained.

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