The Gorebridge Beacon
Client : Gorebridge Community Development Trust
Location : Gorebridge
Value : £2.65m
Completion Date : December 2018
Award: High Commendation in Public Building category at Scottish Design Awards 2019
The Gorebridge Beacon finally opened its doors to the public in November 2018, nearly 10 years after Lee Boyd won a competition to support the Gorebridge Community Development Trust in building a much needed multi-purpose community building in the town.
The project struggled post financial crisis to raise the appropriate funds, the first contractor was sacked half way through the project in 2015 and only 8 weeks before the project was due to open in spring 2017, it was subject to an arson attack which set completion back by a further 18 months. The aspiration to provide comfortable, flexible and affordable public facilities in Gorebridge is now being realised. The building is already busy with a huge variety of community activity, is hosting events and providing office space for local organisations.
The new building sits on an open site, formerly the leisure centre car park, alongside Gorebridge Parish Church and looks out across Hunterfield Road to the Pentlands. The design places the building back from the road to create a more relaxed threshold with unrestricted landscaping wrapping around all sides.
The footprint of the building is organised around a double height circulation axis that has public entrances at either end, picking up visitors from the main road and from the parking behind the leisure centre. On one side is the sub-divisible main hall, on the other is a two storey office wing and alongside the circulation in the middle is a cafe with full height windows, looking southerly to the hills.
The expression of the building as a series of jagged roof forms, clad in black painted Scottish Larch is very gently referencing the industrial buildings of Gorebridge’s past and with the gables facing the street, creates a recognizable signature for the building. The site orientation and unusual roof profile of the building allows the building to be flooded with natural light. The quality of light in the Beacon, even in the few winter months since opening is significant and makes for a pleasant and relaxed internal environment.
The main hall can be split into 3 separate rooms with full height moveable walls, all with independent access and dedicated storage cupboards. It also has a large glazed sliding doors to the front, so the hall can open up to the landscape when needed during events and larger public activities.
The accommodation schedule includes: the main hall, cafe, nursery (Surestart), trust office, ancillary spaces and a suite of lettable office spaces and meeting room.
The building has a strong sustainable agenda. The timber frame is heavily insulated, all rooms have good daylighting reducing reliance on artificial lighting and electricity is generated by an array of photovoltaic panels on the roof.
The building was always seen as a significant component in the regeneration of the town and an inclusive and welcoming destination from which the Trust could support all branches of community life. Finally this potential is being realised and the Beacon is a bustling, busy place to be.