Ashford Gateway

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Location: Ashford

Client: Kent County Council

Project Year: 2011

Cost: Over £2m

Ashford Gateway was a substantial flagship project for Kent County Council's countywide programme of regional Gateways. Constructed on the site of the old town library, the project was set within the Town Conservation Area. Its design had to respect it's prominent context yet be 'iconic'.

The building was designed around the Gateway concept of seamless integration of public and voluntary services and facilities. The building therefore had to be flexible in its provision spaces for a multiplicity of demands upon it, and potentially adaptable in the future as that demand changes and develops. Some spaces were committed to specific uses but others could be used by many stakeholders with differing need.

The primary functions in the building are lending library, reference library, Adult Education, civic ceremonies, Local Authority customer services and social services accommodation. Ancillary accommodation includes a public cafe.

The design revolves around a full height atrium with its prominent stair risiing through. The entrance relates to the public route through the significant public space which is Memorial Gardens. The design incorporated a grand arc fronting onto Church Road - the primary public realm. A lower element faces Queen Street and utilises characteristics of the historic street. The facade responds to the differing need for openness at the 3 levels. Wall and glass are integrated in a fascinating way by what became affectionately known as 'the icycles'.

Construction commenced on site at the end of April 2010 and completion was achieved at the beginning of July 2011.

What is of note about this project is the way each party worked for the better of the project as a whole. All parties respected the Design and the Stakeholders’ demands for Quality. Emphasis was on collaboration throughout.

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Arcs formed a significant feature in the design

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Turning the corner with 'the rotunda'

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Stair form

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