Letchworth Community Hub developmentSpace planning, interior design and fit-out of aCommunity Hub in Letchworth for LetchworthGarden City Heritage Foundation.
Helped take the trust to the community, and bring the community in to the trust.
Following a corporate restructure, rebrand and physical office move, the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation needed to re-engage with the Letchworth community. Having moved to premises on an industrial estate on the edge of town, the Foundation had acquired a small, redundant retail unit in the town centre and were looking to transform this into a welcoming, accessible and valuable community hub in order that local residents could connect and engage with the principles, processes and work of the organisation.
The dual rationale for the community hub was to make Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation more visible and approachable, as well as change the perception of the organisation from one that preached and dictated to one that listened and consulted. Following a detailed inspection of the freshly gutted retail unit, we planned and created a natural flow to assist visitors to logically negotiate the space and information. The design scheme used a mix of materials and colours to create a more ‘crafty’ feel so that the space did not give the appearance of just another clinical, corporate organisation.
At the entrance, we created an area that promoted the corporate values and principles, the types of people, businesses and organisations the Foundation helps and the six charitable commitments that drive its work. Next we installed an AV area that informed visitors of the latest news and developments in their town. Adjacent is a space where residents can engage with Letchworth's future development.
Visitors are then subtly directed to the informal reception area designed in the shape of a question mark, where the receptionist stands in front rather than being ‘protected’ behind.
Finally, there is an informal seating area and secure children’s play area where visitors can discuss any issues or ideas amongst themselves, or with Foundation staff.
By taking visitors to the community hub on an information journey from the moment they set foot in the entrance, we were able to raise their understanding of the purpose and workings of Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, and its objectives in terms of local planning and the development and protection of Letchworth's unique community. The friendly and welcoming space has contributed in changing people’s perceptions of the Foundation as an organisation that is actively embedded within, and listens to, its community.
The hub has created a forum for more open discussions and consultations with the community before decisions are made, and has reduced antagonism and the volume of complaints that previous formal meetings had witnessed.
Provided a foundation for more open public consultations.
The interior design of the Community Hub created by Bonfire has broken down so many barriers. It’s a very tactile, honest and welcoming design scheme that naturally guides people through a wealth of information and creates numerous opportunities for them to contribute their ideas and suggestions. Their work has set a strong foundation for us to build on our more open, consultative approach for the benefit of everyone within Letchworth Garden City.