The Plumstead Centre Extension, London
Commissioned by The Royal Borough of Greenwich, Hawkins Brown’s refurbishment and extension of The Plumstead Centre in south London forms part of a larger High Street regeneration scheme. Formerly an underused Grade II-listed public library, the development now includes a gym, leisure centre, community rooms, café, and new library.
The two-storey extension comprises a collection of largely solid, mono-pitched brick forms tied together with a striking sawtooth brick band and projecting brick headers. The former is intended to unite the scheme’s new and old elements, while the latter subtly references the brick piers employed on the original building. The choice and colour of brick was essential to ensuring that the extension sat comfortably alongside the existing Edwardian library, says Hawkins Brown. It was also important that the horizontal coursing of the extension aligned with the original brickwork. To this end the same coordination size (brick height + mortar bed thickness) was used.
Continuing the existing red masonry tones, the new water-struck brick carries a variation, so that in some instances it appears to match the original, and in others it is something new. The result is a new brick elevation that blends with the old, but defines itself as an addition, not a copy.
Stepped movement joints are employed throughout to achieve a ‘clean’ minimal aesthetic. Setting the stepped joints to a sawtooth pattern brick required a bespoke approach, but the results are worthwhile: the movement joints are invisible across the finished facades. Close collaboration with brick subcontractor, Swift, combined with carefully considered and crafted detailing, has resulted in a robust yet elegant building that makes brick the architectural centrepiece.