Hitchin Centre, North Hertfordshire College has won the Project of the Year award at the Hertfordshire Building Futures Awards. The project also won a commendation for Retrofit of the Year and was the only scheme to be nominated in two categories.
The Building Futures Awards recognise and reward projects in Hertfordshire that demonstrate sustainability, innovation and high quality design in response to environmental challenges.
The Project of the Year category rewards the scheme which has holistically embraced sustainability and is an exemplar for best practice in sustainable development. The award highlights how this scheme pushes the boundaries and provides an insight into the future of sustainability.
The design for the new and refurbished buildings at North Hertfordshire College has transformed the campus to reflect the needs of the students. It has been designed and developed as part of a holistic masterplan strategy for the 110,000 sq m Hitchin campus.
The scheme revives the Hitchin centre through the refurbishment of three teaching accommodation blocks and the creation of a new internal ‘Hub’ space. The 600 sq m multi-functional Hub forms the central focus for the scheme; it was created by redeveloping a former external courtyard, located between existing buildings. The new space provides much sought after additional areas for learning and social interactions, while acting as a point of orientation, linking the existing buildings through the rationalisations of circulation routes.
The Hub roof has been conceived as a solid floating plane which unifies the refurbished teaching blocks. The structure of the roof has been exposed to add drama to the space and has been designed to provide a column free, flexible learning environment. The roof sits on a band of clerestory glazing which brings natural light deep into the Hub, whilst open-able windows allow the space to be naturally ventilated, providing a comfortable environment.
In unifying the existing buildings a greater connectivity is encouraged between the disciplines, promoting interaction and knowledge transfer, whilst providing an accessible, high quality student facility to meet the vision of North Hertfordshire College.
The judges commented on the scheme, saying: “Of all the school and college projects assessed this was the one that stood out as the most imaginative and transformational. A clear concept enhanced with bold use of colour and striking architectural forms creating very exciting and uplifting spaces. A huge collaborative success between architect, college and students.”
Winners were announced at a ceremony on 15 March at the Old Palace, Hatfield House.