Somerstown Community Hub

Bringing communities together

Originally built in the early 1800s and severely damaged by WWII bomb raids, the Somerstown area of Portsmouth has suffered endemic deprivation, unemployment and crime for decades.

All that is set to change as vital community facilities – a health centre and dental surgery, sports hall, housing office, youth and residents’ groups, and a community café – are brought together inside a single stunning, aluminium-clad capsule. 

Project details

  • Customer: Portsmouth City Council
  • Environmental engineers: BAM Design
  • Structural engineers: AKS Ward

  • Services engineers: BAM Design

  • Interior design: BAM Design

  • Value: £10.8 million

  • BREEAM rating: Very Good

  • Completion date: May 2014

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Regeneration driven by residents

Over the space of almost two years, a ground-breaking elliptical structure took shape. Spanning a dual carriageway and connecting the two halves of this troubled community: the Somerstown Central hub is the focal point for a massive local regeneration.

“These community facilities, at the heart of Portsmouth, will make a real difference to the lives of local people,” confirmed the City Council’s Project Manager, Kevin Hudson.

No easy answers

As lead contractor, BAM faced considerable technical challenges. To maximise the use of space inside and out. To translate the iconic form into a cost-effective and sustainable structural solution, built from Glulam timber. To build the cutting-edge structure quickly, with minimal disruption to traffic and local people…

Despite the challenges of working with the Glulam system, BAM Design Manager Marek Konas is a fan: “Timber won over steel as it’s more aesthetically appropriate, because it will be exposed within the building.

"There are environmental advantages too, as it’s produced from a sustainable forest. And it saved a lot of time, as it arrived with service openings pre-cut so there was virtually no cutting or fixing needed on site.”

Completed in Summer 2014, Somerstown Central has already generated a real sense of pride and ownership among the people it’s designed to serve.