Set in the south London grounds of the 17th century Sir Christopher Wren-designed Morden College almshouse, the 700sqm John Morden Centre balances its own presence with the need to blend in with the surrounding architecture.
Located on the southern edge of the site, the new elderly day care centre consolidates the college’s communal facilities, such as craft workshops, a communal dining room, treatment and counselling spaces and a reception and waiting room. The scheme is designed around a wide internal promenade, consists of different pavilions clustered adjoining this central spine, creating views through the building and opportunities for chance encounters between staff, elderly residents and visitors. Each of the pavilions is given its own silhouette with chimney-like elements, which continues the legacy of the robust yet elegant architecture of the original almshouse.
Although the building’s load-bearing structure comprises large scale Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) panels, the outer leaf is made using self-supporting masonry. This mirrors Wren’s original quadrangles, which despite being constructed using load-bearing brick walls, contains large amounts of structural timber elements, such as beams, inside. The architects specified a more robust full brick wall base with half-stone brick leaf on top, choosing Ibstock Cumberland Blend 2629 bricks, as these were a good colour match for the other red-brown brick buildings on the Morden College campus, with their slightly rough texture allowing the building to appear timeless and in keeping with the complex’s patinated brick buildings.
JOHN MORDEN COLLEGE
Irina Hughes, Design Advisor at Ibstock Brick, says: “Ibstock Cumberland bricks were used to fantastic effect in this interesting design. With the bricks arranged in a Flemish bond, the architects sought to reflect the traditional craftsmanship used by Wren at the almshouse, providing a fantastic call-back to the area’s history.
“By using brick on the external elevations, we have created a material and visual connection with the other buildings on the Morden College campus, while lending the new day care centre a robust and unique presence.”