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The Level

The Level

Education & Public Sector

 Location: Brighton

Client/Owner: Brighton & Hove City Council

Architect: Knox Bhavan Architects LLP

Structural Engineer: Price & Myers

Wood Species: European Larch, Douglas Fir, European Oak

A new café is located at the heart of the new HLF funded park, fully glazed on three sides, offering wide-ranging views over the surrounding park and fountain. Glazed oak doors facing south give excellent visual surveillance towards the children’s play area, whilst those to the north and east invite local residents, dog walkers, skate boarders and passing pedestrians in. In good weather all the doors can be opened up to allow a seamless transition where the same paving runs through from inside and outside. Either side of a central roof light the roof is planted with local grasses and wild flowers to blend in with the park landscape. On the south and east sides a larch pergola provides shading; whilst to the north a glass canopy provides shelter. Carefully coordinated Larch cladding and doors to the public toilets and café “back of house” complements the natural park landscape, while the glazed oak doors on all three sides of the café seating area define a welcoming space for the whole community.

Inside, a dramatic diagonal structure made from doubled up Douglas Fir purlins and steel connection plates has a roof light running the full length of the Café over the central ridge, bringing natural light into the building and drama to the space. On either side immediately above the diagonal purlins are painted blue ply panels with exposed joints creating a dramatic and decorative ceiling.

A local chalk land grass roof encourages biodiversity and supports indigenous species; this is one of the first of its kind in the country. Photovoltaic cells on the roof generate electricity for the building and solar panels supply hot water and under floor heating, supplemented by a ground source heat pump. Rainwater is collected from the roof and used to flush the public WCs.

In addition to providing a café for the local community the building includes three wheelchair accessible toilets, four family toilets (with space for a pushchair and with wall mounted toddler seats) and a “Changing Places” room allowing people with disabilities to use the park. There is also an office for the park gardeners enabling them to be on site full time.

Further Sustainability Information: Timber is FSC / PEFC certified