'Visits to UK town centres are down 17% over the past decade as online purchases rise 10% a year. On average, more than one in 10 shops have stood empty for at least 12 months, partly the legacy of 50m sq ft of out-of-town retail space being built from 2000 to 2009. Town centres’ function as a social adhesive has been eroded, sociologists warn.
‘MPs launched an inquiry into the state of the UK’s town centres which heed a warning from Savills, the property consultancy, that high streets could no longer be primarily retail locations but “need to become vibrant, flexible social hubs”. We are entering “the era of the experiential consumer”, Savills said.'
Gravesend Borough Market, completed in February 2017 and recently shortlisted for the Kent Design and Development Award 2018 ( link to blog post ), is part of Gravesham Borough Council’s bid to revitalise Gravesend town centre, and act as an incubator for new, local, start-up businesses.
In the face of all the bad news in the press it’s always great to hear some good news stories. Last week I met Graham Broadbent, who owns Marie’s Tea Room on the High Street next to the market. Graham was looking to expand his business into specialty teas and cake decorating ( riding off the popularity of shows such as the Great British Bake Off ), and started by hiring temporary stalls at the market where he ran group cake decorating classes and sold a variety of teas and sweet treats, both of which were so successful he has now taken up premises on the High Street, next door to his tea rooms, due to open soon ( premises pictured above, currently with "Slinders Florist" signage ). https://mariestearoom.co.uk/
As Gravesend is our home town, we, of course, take a very keen interest in the market. On weekends, friends and family have really taken to the roast duck noodles and Thai street food by Richy and family at the recently opened Pad Thai Live at the market’s food court. http://padthailive.com/
Last but not least, a shout out to Gravesham Urban Knitters, who meet at the market on Thursdays. https://www.facebook.com/graveshamknitters/
We are pleased to announce that both Gravesend Borough Market and the New Sixth Form Centre for Cranbrook School have been shortlisted for the Kent Design
& Development Awards 2018.
Gravesend Borough Market
New Sixth Form Centre, Cranbrook School
For more information, or to see the full shortlist, click here http://www.kentdesigndevelopmentawards.co.uk/2018/09/shortlist-unveiled-for-development.html
Image from https://www.cancerresearchuk.org
This Saturday, 22nd September, Camilla will be taking part in the Shine Night Walk in London for Cancer Research UK, in memory of her mother in law Margaret Goh, who passed away due to pancreatic cancer in 2014.
The Shine Night Walk is a half marathon hosted by Cancer Research every year, in a number of cities throughout the UK, where walkers carry or wear lights, in the forms of glow in the dark bands, face paint, torches and more, as a symbol of hope in the fight against cancer.
If you are interested in sponsoring Camilla, please click here: https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/camillas-giving-page-3
To learn more about the Shine walk, including information about signing up for next year, please click here to go to Cancer Research UK’s website: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/find-an-event/charity-walks/shine-night-walk/london
This week sees the completion of our first Further Education project-- multi-trade workshops for the Medway and Maidstone campuses of MidKent College.
The workshops are to train pupils in the repair of painting and decorating, plasterwork, carpentry, electrical works, and plumbing.
Image shows the new multi-trade workshop at the Maidstone campus.
This year Cranbook School are celebrating their fifth centenary as a grammar school set up to provide schooling for local children in 1518.
As part of the celebrations, Princess Anne visited the school on Tuesday the 12th June, to open the newly completed sixth form centre.
Clay directors Kasan Goh and Camilla Prizeman attended the ceremony, as did project architect Sarah Dias ( with baby Bowen ), quantity surveyor Stuart Harrison of Liberty QS, and Bob Coleman of Coleman and James. Congratulations to the team on a job well done. It is great to see how popular the new sixth form centre is with kids and parents.
We don't usually take part in open design competitions, but January was a slow month, and we thought it would be fun to try our hand at the competition
for the revitalisation of Great Yarmouth Marketplace.
The brief asked for two seperate market areas, a six-day covered market and two-day open market (doubling as a car park for the rest of the week), and a flexible events area.
To keep within the tight budget constraints, we opted for re-purposed shipping containers for the fixed stalls, and a tensile fabric canopy for the covered market, moving the covered market to the centre of the site opened up a flexible events area on the town centre end of the square.
View from the south.
At street level
From beneath the canopy.
On Thursday 22nd March we were invited by Coleman & James, the contractor we worked with on Cranbrook 6th Form Centre, to watch
the Kingsnorth Power Station chimney demolition from outside their offices, just a mile or so north of the site.
Besides a lovely breakfast, we also got some great footage of the demolition from two slightly different angles.
The chimney, which stood over 198 metres tall, was part of the Kingsnorth Power Station first commissioned in 1973. It operated for nearly 40 years before being shut down in December 2012, after reaching an operation-hours cap laid down by the government. At its peak, it provided 1100 jobs and could produce up to 1320MW of electricity.
Prior to demolition, the tower was the 2nd tallest building in Kent after the TV transmitter in Dover. Luckily, as the last surviving power station chimney on the Medway, onlookers could be reasonably certain they had the right one this time.
Speaking of Cranbrook, we’ve also recently had final pictures uploaded to the gallery for Cranbrook (and Gravesend Borough Market). You can check them out here and here.
Our conversion of a former ‘60s gym hall into a new sixth form centre for Cranbrook School has completed in time for the new 2017/2018 academic year. Here
are some pictures of the hall before works started, and near completion.
The old gym before works started.
The works include installing an acoustically isolated mezzanine study area over an open plan social space on the ground floor. The spaces are naturally ventilated, and the mezzanine has been set back to create a double-height atrium to let in natural light from the south facing windows. All glass has been treated to reduce solar heat gain, and the building opens out onto a new seated stoop area overlooking the quadrangle lawn.
The new acoustically sealed study area.
The set back mezzanine floor.
Sheeps wool has been used the insulate the cold copper roof and improve the acoustics within the study space, floating acoustic and lighting panels ( nicknamed Weetabix in the office ) are used above the ground floor social spaces to improve sound legibility.
The downstairs, open plan social area.
The "Weetabix" lighting panels.
Rob Dennis ( Head of Property & Capital Projects ) holding the awards.
The first ever Medway Design and Regeneration Awards was held on Friday the 16th June to celebrate the past 10 years of new development and regeneration in Medway.
Clay director Camilla Prizeman attended the evening with long standing clients from Medway Council, Rob Dennis ( Head of Property & Capital Projects ), Anthony Wallner ( Capital Programme Manager ) and Dean Parker ( Project Manager ). We didn’t expect to win anything against the competition on show.
By the end of the evening the team had picked up the award for best public building- community for Medway Park ( extension and refurbishment of former Black Lion Leisure Centre ), and the award for best community building- education for Walderslade Primary School, and Camilla had given, in her own words, the ‘worst and most unprepared acceptance speech ever’.
We don’t often blow our own trumpet, but the 2 regeneration awards are vindication for years of worry and stress, working against the odds as a small regional practice in a difficult chosen field— the regeneration of North Kent— 17 years of hard graft.
Medway Park during the 2010 Modern Pentathlon World Cup, and Dean Parker ( Project Manager ) with the award for Best Public Builing - Community.
Medway Park won’t win any beauty parades but as a community project it delivered what the community needed, a centre of sporting excellence completed within budget, and completed in time to host the 2010 Modern Pentathlon World Cup, and in time to serve as a training centre for Olympic and Paralympic teams in 2012, and, more importantly, serve the local community and increase the Centre’s turnover more than 3-fold, ensuring its continued financial viability.
Walderslade Primary School, winner of Best Community Building - Education.
Walderslade Primary School did win a Kent Design Award in 2012, but this retrospective award does partly make up for the fact that the RIBA shortlisting judge sent to look at one of our most mature design projects at the time, did not even step inside the building when he wrote it off.