Theis + Khan entered an RIBA International competition in May 2015 for the development of a new community facility on the site of the existing Bat & Ball community centre in Sevenoaks, Kent and won it. The new centre will include Sevenoaks Town Council offices, a community hall and conference centre, a council chamber, a café and a nursery. The mixed use facilities will enable conferences for up to 250 people to take place, weddings, community activities, and office use. The centre will be centred around a public garden connected to the adjacent Bat & Ball station. The proposed connection will enable passengers to access the station from the Bat & Ball area currently cut off from the station.
The design concept is a contemporary interpretation of a Kentish garden. The building takes the form of a simple curved garden wall arranged around a circular garden with abstract vernacular forms on top that create a contemporary vernacular composition.
Similar juxtapositions of garden wall and building are seen at Sissinghurst Castle, Knole Park, Chartwell and Sevenoaks High Street and are typical of Kent. Our contextual approach creates a new centre for Bat & Ball that inextricably links it to Sevenoaks and to Kentish architecture whilst the familiar informality and garden setting creates its own identity and sense of place.
Visibility for the new building is an important factor. On approaching the site from Otford Road the distinctive roofscape of rooflights and clerestory windows can be seen from the road and will be lit at night. The Round garden is at the centre of the scheme. The circular shape of the garden captures the juxtaposition of the Bat & Ball station, the new buildings together with the different routes coming into the site. The circular shape captures all these elements within a pure and all-encompassing form that creates a calm sense of place.
The project is currently being drawn up to be submitted for a Full planning application.