Public BuildingsTNG Youth & Community Centre

Purposeful, impactful and embraced by locals. Proof of the power of participation.

From the earliest days of RCKa we have sought to practice architecture in a way that empowers building users and wider communities through rich engagement processes, and delivers social value by harnessing the ability of high quality design to address socio-economic and other policy issues. This vision came together for the first time at TNG Youth and Community Centre: a project whose legacy continues to resonate, and which remains an exemplar of successful community engagement today.

By engaging with and listening to young people from the outset and involving them in the design process, we encouraged them to use their energy positively to shape a new building that catered for their needs. For the young people involved, this experience was transformative: making them feel valued, empowered and inspired.

The legacy of this project is not just an exemplary community: all of the young people we engaged with went on to further education and employment. This is a project that literally turned lives around, and remains a touchstone for us today as a practice.

1701 regular youth members since opening

100% of the youth steering group went onto a form of education and employment

Use of CLT locks in over 260 tonnes of CO2

"It's become a hub for nothing but positivity, and now we have something which is a heart, a little heart of the road, and it helps to pump life into the community."

Shaun Sutar, Youth First

Expanding the role of the architect

When the existing youth centre in Sydenham was closed down, its absence was keenly felt, leaving young people feeling disenfranchised and with no positive outlet or support outside school. Gang violence rose and the building became a magnet for anti-social behaviour. The young people we set out to serve were left feeling undervalued, unsupported and sceptical of promises that weren’t being delivered. We knew that we had to regain their trust, and harness their input to create a new building that met their needs and demonstrated that they were valued.

Working alongside Lewisham Council and its partners, we saw our role as much more than project architects: we used experience of working on the OPEN youth venue in Norwich to identify and broker capital funding from the UK Government’s Myspace programme – drawing together a wide range of organisations including Lewisham College, Centrepoint, the Football Association and local theatre, church and community groups to develop a brief and built support.

Most importantly, we sought input from young people themselves as the building’s future users. Through a well-structured and inclusive design process we overcame their scepticism and demonstrated that they had a meaningful role to play in satisfying a funding brief for a ‘wordlclass’ building.

"a political and architectural triumph in equal measure."

Building Design Magazine

A democratic and flexible building

Central to our vision was the creation of a democratic and flexible building that responds to the changing needs of its occupants. Set within a challenging high density neighbourhood, this is an exceptional youth and community facility on a gang-neutral site that encourages social cohesion, and hosts a lively programme of events and initiatives that engage the wider community through sport, art and performance.

Technically, the building’s dramatic central space resolves complex site levels: practically it forms a vibrant and welcoming heart to the building that is alive with activity. In contrast with the robust profiled polycarbonate and concrete outer shell, the internal ‘CLT’ timber structure creates feelings of safety, warmth and comfort, with plentiful daylight and clear views, adding to users’ sense of connectedness and wellbeing.

We worked hard to create spaces that fulfil multiple purposes: the triple-height wintergarden for example acts as a thermal buffer, critical breakout, circulation and viewing space for the external multi-use games area, and is criss-crossed by high level balconies that provide important informal spaces.

"a political and architectural triumph in equal measure."

Building Design Magazine

Legacy and long-term stewardship

We applied our ethos that engagement as a process is fundamental to long-term resilience. 25-30 young people were involved over a four-year period in every decision that had to be made at the centre – from the types of facilities and services on offer, to suggesting the name and logo for the building working with a graphic designer.

"I think it’s the whole creative concept that you guys came with us and kind of opened up our creative concept but at the same time facilitated the space so that we could, you know, literally work together and build something."

Rashan McDonald, Community Worker


  • Architecture Today, Buildings that Stand the Test of Time (Culture) 2023 – Winner
  • RIBAJ MacEwen Award 2015 – Highly Commended
  • Architizer A+ Awards Typology 2014 – Winner
  • Civic Trust Award 2014 – Highly Commended
  • RIBA Regional Building Award 2014 – Winner
  • RIBA National Building Award 2014 – Winner


  • Architect of the Year 2022 
Social Value Award
  • EU Mies Award 2015
  • New London Awards 2014
  • Building Awards, 2014
  • Placemaking Design Excellence 2014
  • Timber in Construction Awards 2013
  • Architecture Today, Buildings that Stand the Test of Time (Culture) 2013

London Borough of Lewisham

Key Stakeholder
The New Generation Youth and Community Centre

Completed 2014

Lewisham, London

Project Team
Alan Beveridge
Justin Bridgland
Stephanie Crombie
Dieter Kleiner
Tim O’Callaghan
Obi Okoye
Joshua Scott
Jakob Spriestersbach
Sei Takenaka

Ioana Marinescu
Jakob Spriestersbach
Jim Stephenson

Jim Stephenson

Project list