RCCE Village of the Year

and the winner is.........Peldon.... well done to everyone involved.

For the third year running Inkpen Downie's directors and architects are proud to sponsor The Essex Village of the Year Competition.

Director Ben Downie was also invited to be one of the judges of the RCCE's event and a feature about our award-winning practice appeared in their magazine "The Voice of Rural Essex Oyster".

Inkpen Downie has a history of supporting the efforts of communities to help them get the greatest experience from their local environment and we believe that good designs evolve best out of dialogues with the local people who will use their buildings.

The evidence of Inkpen Downie's success can be seen in our designs, which along with village halls include: church refurbishments/extensions, hospitality, education and housing. Often our projects demand a sensitive design response to the historic environment or a sustainable energy efficient solution to 'hard to heat' existing buildings. Most projects are designed by our architects using building information modelling (BIM) software that allows design proposals to be understood in 3D right from the beginning.

"We aim to ensure the sustainability of village halls and to keep them at the heart of the community, so they are attractive, are being used by local people and have the funds to sustain their own maintenance," said Ben, whose parents were both architects and whose father, Norman Downie, designed Colchester's Mercury Theatre. Inkpen Downie's current office is close to the theatre.

Ben studied architecture at Liverpool University and stayed in Merseyside for six years working on innovative social housing, so he has an eye for designs which knit together villages of all sizes and are used by all sections of the community for a diverse range of activities, events and organisations.

Village hall projects start with a feasibility study to identify the community's needs and the options for supplying those requirements. Inkpen Downie present the completed study at a meeting to the community so that any feedback can be factored into the proposals. This initial process usually results in some costed designs that allow the village hall committee to apply for planning permission and to start fundraising.

Once enough funding has been secured, the architects prepare detailed designs and advise on the appointment of builders and suitable contractual arrangements.

Inkpen Downie's aim as architects is to make sure people want to use the building by providing meeting rooms, kitchen, toilet facilities to a high standard and upgrade heating systems so that the building is an attractive venue for weddings and other social events. Designs meet the legal requirements for accommodation for nurseries and childrens' groups, as well as providing a comfortable venue for regular clubs eg guides, scouts, sports clubs, WI or book clubs.

Ben said "I'm excited Inkpen Downie is in a position to be able to assist communities in their efforts to revitalise their environment. We take pleasure in working hard to safeguard key services, improve amenities, such as village halls, to make them more self-sufficient. Village halls provide accommodation for all sections of the community and the provision of an attractive and comfortable building can make an important contribution to reducing individual's feelings of loneliness and isolation"

Watch this space for further news


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