COACH replaces a former toilet block with an attractive, sustainable town centre facility on the banks of the River Tone. Architects, Reed Holland Associates, faced the immediate challenge of designing a building on a flood plain which would gain the approval of the Environment Agency, Local Authority and the community alike. The solution is both functional and creative.
At ground floor level floodable storage provides space for boats and other equipment. The café has a prominent position with an elevated river-facing terrace and is served by external toilet facilities which also cater for visitors to the park. Internally COACH users have the benefit of changing facilities including showers and toilets, a wonderful first-floor Park Room offering space for up to 60 people, and of office space. Linking these two elements of the building is a unique indoor/outdoor space for use by youth and educational groups.
Construction on a flood plain was always going to be a challenge. The team at South West Highways used driven pile foundations. The building was then constructed as a steel frame sitting on top of a ring beam linking the piles. The main section of the facility is enclosed with a lightweight metal frame in ll and wrapped with a highly insulated jacket.
Externally the building has Millboard cladding – a timber substitute. COACH is heated by low-temperature under-floor heating provided by a small and efficient gas boiler and has high thermal mass due to its concrete floors.