Projects > The Forum
- Hemel Hemstead
- Client: Dacorum Borough Council
- Size: 8,400sqm / 90,240sqft
- Services: Masterplanning
We were appointed as masterplanners and architects for this extensive urban renewal development for Dacorum Borough Council to replace outmoded and redundant 1950/60 former ‘New Town’ buildings, and revitalise and improve the urban core of the town. The full development includes the new Council HQ - The Forum, replacing the 1960s Civic Centre - residential development of 200 units and a leisure scheme.
The Forum creates a gateway statement on the approach into the town from the west. Accommodation is arranged on three main floorplates set around a generous central atrium space. The main Council Chamber, Mayor’s Room, Members’ Area and County Registry areas are located at first floor in a series of flexible spaces; the Chamber and Meeting Rooms can be self-contained or opened up into expanded spaces for public meetings or private hire. All areas overlook the central atrium to encourage an open, transparent ethos, a distinct change from the highly cellular original Civic Centre, and creates an environment which staff and public can enjoy and appreciate.
More public spaces are located at ground level including reception, Customer Services, Voluntary Services and County Library. The atrium serves as a hub with café, waiting areas and carefully arranged spill-out from the library areas.
A focal entrance space is slightly elevated from the street, tapering naturally to pavement level. The ground floor to the main streetscape is colonnaded with full height glazing providing animated views into the library areas. Above the ‘plinth level’ the main entrance is emphasised by the projecting Council Chamber which is wrapped in a diamond-pattern feature cladding, then further marked by an over-sailing canopy structure. The two upper floors are visually linked by double-storey framed curtain walling which help create a modern yet civic quality.
Our concept creates a mixed mode environment with natural ventilation to the northern quarter of the building and a concentration of the more cellular space to the south.