TOKKO Youth Space is a MyPlace funded community building for 13-19 year olds designed to engender a sense of belonging to the youth of Luton. The Youth Space attracts a broad spectrum of young members and encourages them to develop their skills and talents in a safe, inclusive and friendly environment.
Funded by the Department of Education’s myplace programme this project provides world class facilities that fulfil the needs that were identified by the youth in the community. The facility was proposed after a survey of Luton’s young people took place where it was said that they needed a space “to talk, be listened to, relax and gain confidence by trying new things.” TOKKO provides a variety of facilities including a climbing wall, an IT suite, dance studios, training rooms, multipurpose rooms and a café. As well as these spaces it is provides a home for a Luton Youth Service and a large support and counseling service. All of these enable and empower young people to fulfil their declaration. The Youth Space was opened in April 2013 and cost £4.7Million providing 1,100m2 of space spread over 5 floors and a roof terrace. It is situated on a tight urban site in a conservation area in the center of Luton. The bold twisted form expresses the very dynamic uses within the building. A welcoming open set of spaces invite you in at street level, the higher you progress through the building the more enclosed the spaces become arriving at the dance Studio at the top which overlooks the centre of Luton connecting the fluid movement of free-running with the vibrant town centre.
The unique aspect of the project was the level of engagement that took place between the Youth Steering Group and the design team that produced this valuable and striking community asset. This group of young individuals were organised and coordinated by Voluntary Action Luton and were involved with every aspect of the process from the funding bid, the selection of consultants, the design and even the marketing of their new facility. Astudio also invited members of the steering group to work in our studio, they took part in design team meetings, learned model making as well as basic CAD skills.
This level of community engagements has allowed TOKKO to be fully accepted by the community which has been shown by accomplishing 13,500 visits in the first 9 months. It has provided 3,200 hours of supervised activities, has gained 20 sponsors, 50 partners ad 40 community groups have signed up to use the facilities.
Corporate activities and room hire take place during the day when the building is not used by the youth. This supports the running of the building and a charity has been set up to work closely with various partners bringing new and exciting opportunities for the Tokko and wider local community.
Although the site is close to the main square is not visible from ground level, therefore Astudio knew that they needed to enhance the presence of the building to attract as many users as possible. They achieved this by creating a five storey building that dramatically rises above its context, topped with a full-height glazed facade that overlooks the square and portrays the active nature of the building.
The massing was carefully modelled to respond to the varying scales of the site’s two neighbouring buildings; 2 story residential/shops and the six storey Council Building. The two interlocked boxes articulate the two scales, different materials were used for each box: concrete to the lower and more abstract materials to create a double skin façade on the upper.
The external envelope sympathetically contrasts with the surrounding brick buildings. The expressive language of some of the facades in the area have been reinterpreted in a contemporary way by introducing vertical fins on the upper box which create rhythm and a synergism to the streetscape. The use of colour veiled behind perforated panels and metal fins bring a distinctive appearance that can be seen differently as you move around the building.
Internal Arrangement The main challenge of the project was the limited size of the site, both in terms of design and construction logistics. A simple layout based around the core maximizes the net area and reduces circulation. The selection of materials were developed with the client who wanted to create a “bare” feeling with exposed finishes, although some small rooms were tailored to create a different atmosphere to the rest of the building.
Sustainability The project has embedded environmental strategies, from the use of materials up to the selection of the services. Sustainable principles have been incorporated into the scheme design strategy wherever feasible in order to achieve a BREEAM Very Good on this challenging site. A three stage approach has been taken to address sustainable design: 1. Passive design to reduce building loads 2. Energy efficiency measures 3. Low Carbon technologies
The most fundamental measures were implemented within the building design at an early stage, rather than simply seeking to provide expensive “bolt-on” renewables.
Concrete was used to create essential thermal mass even though it was a difficult solution in terms of construction logistic, it was important to reduce the running cost of this facility. Low u-value building elements were selected as well as a highly insulated envelope and a carefully considered building orientation. The majority of the openings in the envelope are located in the east and west facades and a series of fins provide solar shading to help reducing heating and cooling loads, reducing energy demand. The roof terrace has been orientated towards the south to maximise its use all year around.
Energy Efficiency Measures The air and noise quality of the site prescribed a mechanically ventilated solution that uses an air source heat pump system to lower energy consumption, running costs and efficiency. Simple controls are provided to ensure systems are only in use during periods of occupancy. The specification of high efficiency main plant, and energy efficiency measures, as well as ensuring that each area is served by appropriate technologies reduces energy usage.
Variable speed fans are provided to all mechanical ventilation heat recovery units to reduce running costs. As well as variable speed pumps are provided to all secondary systems with local thermostats.
Water efficient appliances are used in all cases and lighting of the building is provided using motion detection ensuring that lighting is not left on in unoccupied areas.
Inclusive Design The concept of inclusive design is central to the development, users no matter what their mobility, age or gender are able to enter the building and use its facilities. The scheme meets the diverse needs of the wider community taking into account different age groups, safety issues for women, ethnic backgrounds, and physical and sensory capabilities (including people with physical and other disabilities). Best practice standards for inclusive design, particularly in the public realm, have informed the project.
The main access for the building has been located taking in to account accessibility and external level challenges presented on the site. It is placed in a logical position and is clearly signed and well lit. Internally an appropriate lift guarantees access to all levels of the building for disabled users. Disabled toilet facilities are located at ground floor level and 3rd level to ensure even distribution of the disabled facilities in the building. High contrast materials and manifestation are used throughout the building to ensure that the experience of the building is not diminished for visually impaired users. The fire escape strategy for disabled users has been considered by providing refuge areas in fire protected areas. Fixed and loose furniture used in this facility is designed or selected according to relevant regulations and guidelines, including reception desks, counters, computer benching.
The entrances provide a clear view of the building interior to assist with way finding and the reception counter is clearly visible from outside the building. Electronic automatic doors are provided at the main entrance and the clear opening width is suitable for wheelchair users, ambulant disabled people and people with assistance dogs and the threshold is suitably detailed as not to hinder wheelchair traffic or become a trip hazard. The design of the entrance door is designed to ensure that both standing and seated users can see who is approaching from either side of the door.
Community Involvement A unique aspect of the creation of TOKKO was the use of a youth steering group. This group of young individuals were organised and coordinated by Voluntary Action Luton and were involved with every aspect of the process from the funding bid, the selection of consultants, the design and even the marketing of their new facility. Astudio also invited members of the steering group to work in our studio, they took part in design team meetings, learned model making as well as basic CAD skills.
TOKKO was funded by the Department of Education’s myplace programme that provides world class facilities that fulfil the needs identified by the youth in the community. The facility was proposed after a survey of Luton’s young people took place where it was said that they needed a space “to talk, be listened to, relax and gain confidence by trying new things.” TOKKO provides a variety of spaces and facilities that enable and empower young people to fulfil this declaration. Along with the engagement with the youth, there was also a pre-application consultation that allowed the community to have a voice, share their concerns and excitement about the proposed building. Other forms of involvement included a website that allowed the community to view the design and leave feedback, as well as a facebook page, live twitter feed, radio interviews, a public exhibition and a launch party.
Best practice was constantly adhered to during both the design and construction periods and the process was recognised by CABE as an exemplar experience in stakeholder engagement. http://www.cabe.org.uk/buildings/myplace.html
Community Initiatives and Users TOKKO is home to Youth Advice Luton (Connexions) which offers advice, counselling and training to unemployed youth in Luton, providing valuable life skills that will help them make the most of their future.
TOKKO regularly rents meeting rooms to a number of companies such as Luton Airport and EasyJet which helps to support the day to day running of the facility. Other sponsors of money and equipment include Vauxhall, Wates and Tesco. There are a variety of spaces which can be used for classes, training and play, activities include: - SNAP art workshop - SWAY girls group - Healthy cooking course - Disability project - Dance, capoeira and other fitness classes - Music and media workshops - Table tennis and pool tournaments - Climbing wall games - Guest speaks and debates - Workshops covering peer pressure, stay safe, sexual health and relationships - Movie nights
The users love the range and quality of the spaces and say that they are user friendly, inspiring and that they encourage people to return to expand their skills.
The users are encouraged to be part of the Youth Board which meet regularly and help to decide on what goes on with in the centre. This helps to create a sense of ownership of the building and promotes good behaviour and proper uses of the facilities. All staff and volunteers are trained to the level that is required to help with the day to day running or specific activities such as the climbing wall and kitchen area.