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Community Building Should Take Pride in its Nomination

This week it’s the 2023 AJ Architecture Awards, and one of the nominations in the Community and Faith (up to £2m) Category, which we have our fingers crossed for, is the stunning community project, The Proud Place, in Manchester, for which Green Building Store provided its high performance windows and doors.  

In this case study, we’ll look at the ambitious rebuild of The Proud Trust’s Community Centre and how our windows have helped provide a comfortable community centre for the LGBT+ community of Manchester and the North West.  

What are The Proud Trust and The Proud Place? 

The Proud Trust is an LGBT+ youth charity empowering young people to be proud of who they are. The Proud Trust delivers youth work and one-to-one support across Greater Manchester and Cheshire.  

The charity runs Manchester’s LGBT+ Centre, The Proud Place, which officially opened in 2022.  

The Proud Place, however, can trace its roots back to the 1970’s and Manchester’s first “Gay Centre”, a 700-square-foot basement at 178 Waterloo Place on Oxford Road. In 1988, Europe’s first purpose-built gay community centre was built on Sidney Street by the Trust. 

In 2013-2015, a feasibility study was conducted for a new community centre, and it was decided to knock down the existing centre on Sidney Street and replace it with a new building to meet its growing demand. Between 2015 and 2020, £2.5 million was raised, and ground was broken in August 2020. 

The Proud Place Project 

The Proud Trust undertook a pioneering rebuild of its youth and community centre in central Manchester, working with URBED as the architect, LEDA providing building services, structural engineering by Elliot Bond, and quantity surveying and project management by Modero Ltd

The new three-storey building enabled the Proud Trust to more than double its impact in supporting LGBT+ people, promoting equality and diversity, and securing its position as a vibrant hub of LGBT+ life in Manchester and the North West. Local contractor City Build built the project during 2020-1. The project targeted the AECB building standard.  

Green Building Store supplied our PERFORMANCE triple glazed timber windows and doors for the project. 

The Design of the Proud Place 

The three-storey building includes a community café, a large community room, a library, and a city-centre roof garden. Bricks play an essential theme for this new building, and the yellow bricks of the old centre have been referenced in the brickwork wrapping around the library in the new centre, creating a critical focal point for heritage and archival materials from the original building.  

Despite its noisy and busy urban location, the Proud Trust wanted to create a comfortable, healthy, welcoming, and attractive building for its users and visitors.  It was important that the building is environmentally and socially responsible, with minimal in-use carbon emissions and efficient use of water – performing in reality and the design calculations.  

Efforts were also taken to ensure the building is simple and cost-effective, so the Proud Trust could concentrate its resources on providing much-needed services to the young people who visit.  

User involvement 

User involvement was critical to developing the vision, brief and design of the new LGBT+ Centre. URBED ran a collaborative process that enabled all involved to communicate their ideas in an ongoing dialogue with the designers.  

The process included the young people, who are the primary users of the building, the staff, volunteers, and external hirers who run services from it, and stakeholders and members of the public who visit the café or are neighbours of the building.  

Fabric first approach 

The new centre was also designed with a fabric-first approach to energy efficiency. A robust thermal envelope and airtightness layer ensures the building is comfortable to work in and visit while maintaining low running costs and avoiding excessive maintenance requirements.  

Reducing environmental impact 

The primary structure of the building is designed to minimise the amount of material required. The secondary frame is made of timber rather than steel – avoiding approximately 8 tonnes of upfront carbon. In a post-Grenfell world, this choice required extensive coordination with the design team’s fire engineer and local authority building control.  

A domestic scale air-source heat pump was specified to provide all heating for the building. The combined efficiency of the building and the heat pump aims to keep fuel bills very low.   

Triple glazed timber windows and doors 

Using our low energy triple glazed high-performance doors and windows has played an essential part in the building, helping to reduce heat loss and noise transmission. 

Neighbouring buildings overshadow the site, and there were limitations on window position and size on three sides due to fire regulations and privacy concerns. The only place for large windows was the elevation facing the street or the roof.  

The layout and window positions of the design took full advantage of this to maximise daylight to the critical spaces in the building.  The large feature window box details, supported outside the main wall of the building, were a key design element– creating informal meeting spaces within the building.  

Green Building Store supplied the PERFORMANCE triple glazed timber windows and doors for the project, including a Lift and slide door for the café. Special glass and detailing were required for the windows used in the window boxes, which we worked with URBED to achieve. 

Triple glazing was an essential part of the building’s fabric first approach, which targeted the AECB building standard. Timber windows were specified as a lower impact option – and all timber was to be FSC Certified. Green Building Store’s PERFORMANCE range fitted the bill and came out competitively compared with other suppliers who quoted for the project. Green Building Store was knowledgeable and helpful with all the technical detailing around the window boxes and has been great to work with. We are pleased with the quality and robust performance of the PERFORMANCE windows and doors at the project.

Project architect Ste Garlick from URBED

The triple glazed timber windows and doors from Green Building Store make an important contribution to our beautiful, welcoming and comfortable new building. They look amazing and have helped us achieve our sustainability goals for the centre.

The Proud Trust

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