The Gateway Café
The Gateway Café in Peacheaven has been turned into a hub for the local community as part of a collaborative local project. A relatively small project with a budget of £340,000, the development has raised the bar for design.
Main contractors Tasker Catchpole and architects Kaner Olette Architects have remodelled an old maintenance depot, which was built in 1979 in brick and asbestos.
Speaking to Premier Construction magazine, Kaner Olette Architects Director, Michael Kaner commented: “The Big Parks Project, which is the overall project, got money from a series of Section 106 money for an open master plan. We had an open brief so it was about finding a balance between all of the different things that people wanted. We were involved from the early stages and then it developed into a more focused thing where the priorities were a café, improving the community pavilion and working with planning to create an integrity to the whole space with a single identity.”
The former maintenance depot, which has been transformed into the Gateway Café, was deemed as strategically important for the location as it could form a link between the existing sports and community facilities to the new park areas and South Downs National Park.
Michael added: “There were a number of constraints with the development, budget being one and the archaeology in the new park area being another. After looking and analysing those, we thought the best place for the café would be in a visible position and the place where the existing maintenance depot was, was in a strategically good position. It is a 360 degree building and could be described as a main hub.”
The original building was retained and remodelled. A new skin of Zinc was placed around the brickwork to improve thermal performance and sweet chestnut belies were added for extra detailing. Sliding doors have also been installed to allow the owners to open up the space to those using the café.
Work was completed on the project in March 2015.
“Opening up the views was key,” said Michael. “We remodelled the building by bringing in a new structure and a new structural opening. The doors open right the way through so you can see right the way through. The better views from the building are to the north but as the sun goes round, the tables can be moved around outside. It is a harsh climate there because we are about 100m from the east coast so there is lots of wind, high winds and salt so the materials used were to keep it low maintenance. Having something with sustainable renewables was also a key thing and was a demonstration of what could be done. They don’t have many interesting buildings so the client was keen to use technologies.”
Since completion, the project has gone on to win several highly recognised awards, including the RIBA 2016 South East Award.
Commenting on the buildings success, Michael said: “It has been brilliant because it helps our development and profile as a practice and makes us feel that we’re going in the right direction. With this particular project, we were surprised because it’s not perfect. So for example, we can’t control how the operator fits it out but what was nice was that the RIBA judges could see that it was a low budget building and what we did was work hard to make the most out of it and the community benefits that it has provided has created a legacy for future projects in that area.”