The centre was designed by David Adjaye OBE and opened in 2007.
In the Architect’s own words, the centre “is a genuine centre of excellence that enables opportunities for the education and development of local people in a supportive environment, which promotes self realisation, brings to the area a pot pourri of entertainment and artistic forms for all ages, and allows individuals and their communities to be proud of their cultures and origins while sustaining a diverse future. The spirit materialises not in a single building but in an intentional milieu that acts as a medium for the movement.”
The centre was built on the site of a disused Victorian swimming baths. As part of the design, English Heritage insisted that the red-brick Portland stone front of the building be retained so as to maintain the style of architecture of the surrounding buildings.
The architect also said “It is arranged as a linear acropolis, with a major performance space at its heart, with meeting spaces in the gateway building and enterprise units in the long building. The open spaces make connections with the surrounding areas.”
The Centre was designed to spread its activities over three buildings, meaning that disparate activities can take place at the same time. The inter-related buildings comprising the centre are:
- The refurbished bath house (used for administration, box office and meeting room spaces)
- The auditorium, café and back of house facilities
- The enterprise units
The style of architecture was intended to be modern in an unassuming way, so that the activities within speak for themselves and for the human form to interact through, with and between the buildings.
The entire centre was designed to be accessible and is step free throughout. The design also allows flexibility to accommodate a range of artistic forms from theatre and dance company performances to gallery display space. The theatre can accommodate up to 300 people sitting, but has innovative technology meaning that the chairs can be pushed back at the touch of a button to accommodate 500 people standing. The Enterprise Centre enables the businesses within to adopt and exploit technological advances. The configuration as a whole seeks to promote interaction and connectivity between performers, audiences, entrepreneurs and users.
The materials used include purpleheart wood in the foyer, specially imported from Guyana – which was Bernie’s place of birth.