We are excited to have got through to the finals in the LABC Building Excellence regional awards 2016 for the Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue.
The existing building at 6 Lansdowne Road was originally a 19th century gymnasium which was converted into a synagogue and occupied by the congregation in 1937. In 1962 the adjacent property of 26 Farm Road was purchased and its rooms used for classrooms, office and library. This part was separated and sold in October 2011 in order to assist with raising finances to refurbish the existing building which has by now fallen into a poor state of repair including structural movement of the west elevation and a leaking roof. The congregation had to move to temporary facilities within Hove for its religious and social activities. BHPS is within a designated Conservation Area but not historically listed.
ZSTa were appointed as architects to the proposed development at 6 Lansdowne Road following the prior agreement of an overall design scheme by Preston Rubin Associates. In light of the budget constraints ZSTa recommended a value engineering exercise to reduce the final cost of the building works in order for this project to proceed.
The works on the new proposal and within budget following ZSTa proposal started in October 2014 and consisted of a strip out of all internal walls and floors, taking down the west and south elevation to the neighbouring garden level and the roof. The north elevation and the roof trusses had to be retained.
The constraints of being in a conservation area and neighbouring properties adjacent to the east, south and west included detailed discussions and arrangements with their owners all laid down in a Party Wall Agreement to provide safe access to the external fabric and security for the neighbours.
The proposal for the rebuild of the synagogue consists of a timber frame construction for the external west and south walls with new roofs following the existing pitches and repair works to the existing trusses. A new steel frame structure designed by a structural engineer was erected internally to create the new floor and wall spaces.
The internal layout for the synagogue offers a large sanctuary, office, library, educational rooms, pastoral care, a social area, kitchen and toilet accommodation over 2 floors. By entering the building these spaces flow into each other linked by generous foyer spaces and a sculptural staircase leads to the first floor housing the social area overlooking the sanctuary through large glazing. Due to the site constraints and the proximity of the neighbouring properties a series of rooflights have been installed to provide day light to all habitable rooms, some with specifically created light shaft to guide the light.
The holiest place in the synagogue is the ark where the Torah Scrolls are kept and was an item of high importance during the construction process for the new building. Entering the sanctuary through a set of double doors the visitor will see the ark at the front which creates the focal point of the sanctuary designed by ZSTa and build in timber by a creative carpenter in vibrant colours. Further the double height space of the sanctuary provides importance to this space and the exposed existing timber trusses at roof level show a part of the historic structure retained.
Due to the height and the hard finishes, bespoke acoustic timber panels have been installed to complement the ark design to improve the speech intelligibility.
The core team consisting of the contractor, client, QS, structural engineer and architect worked closely together throughout the process and decisions had to be made quickly and within budget. Due to its status the wider congregation of the synagogue had to be consulted and kept up to date throughout the process.
The design of the new building considered sustainable credentials with well insulated walls and roofs, rooflights to the north to prevent overheating and a heat recovery unit to reduce heating cost and provide good ventilation to all areas.
To read more on the LABC awardsplease click here