This competition entry is for a new Conference and Innovation centre for the B.R.E. in Daventry. It needed to be strong enough to be a marker, yet nuanced enough to resolve and refine the complex geometries of the site. We settled on a singular building, partly raised above the ground to make it distinct, and gently inflected it to bind it to the landscape.


We were intrigued by the idea of the IHUB as an introverted place, and looked at introverted building forms like Oxbridge colleges and classical villas. They appealed because they suggested an atmosphere of calm reflection and discussion, and also because in their isolation they represent, in microcosm, the world which they study.

At the heart of our scheme is a series of enclosed gardens, of varying characters, around which the building is organised. On the canal level, the main entrance is found at the western end of the building. From the entrance, a part submerged ‘cryptoporticus’ gives access to the canal level cafe, the innovation units and the conference facility. This passageway is enclosed on one side by the battered timber retaining structure, and on the other by the fully glazed cafe. The conference facility is located at the upper ground level, at the eastern end of the building. The main bulk of the innovation units are placed around the largest of the gardens, and accessed from a semi-enclosed external walkway.