Building Tour: Central Somers Town by Adam Khan Architects
Join Adam Khan, founding director of Adam Khan Architects (AKA), for a guided tour of Central Somers Town and the practice's recently finished play centre for local young people. Developed within a masterplan by DSDHA for Camden Council, the development is the new home of Plot 10, a childcare club that has provided a lifeline to local working parents since the 1970s, as well as integrating ten homes, a nursery and a rooftop sports field.
The play club is laid out along a public park as an enfilade of courts and rooms, held together by a unifying celebratory façade. A strong hierarchy of openings and glimpses into courtyards quietly satisfy the many and stringent safeguarding and privacy demands, whilst projecting welcome and vitality. The shopfront windows display children’s work to the neighbourhood, whilst screening the classroom behind, and the nursery school entrance hall is a kitchen to encourage parents in for a cup of tea and a chat.
For the playground's design, AKA commissioned photographer Lewis Khan and ethnographer Jan Van Duppen to observe the ways children were using Plot 10's previous premises. This prompted a new design approach of providing a simple strong framework - an armature on which fabrics, swings, shelters could be improvised by the children and youth workers.The design workshops with children have been translated by Axel Feldmann into neon signage and logos.
Adam Khan trained as an architect at the University of Westminster, and then as an associate at Caruso StJohn Architects, leaving to set up Adam Khan Architects in 2006. Based in Hackney, Adam Khan Architects is a practice with an established reputation for built work of sensitivity, elegance and refinement which addresses key issues of our time: social inclusion, sustainability and the vitality of public space. The practice is one of the Southwark Council and LHC Architect Design Framework selected to work directly with public sector organisations on delivering new housing projects within London. With Juliette Scalbert, Adam has been leading a design studio in the masters course at the School of Architecture at Kingston University since 2018. He became one of the London Mayor’s Design Advocates in 2017, chosen to assist the Good Growth by Design programme to enhance London’s neighbourhoods.