The Green
Southwark, London, 2012-16

A new low energy community centre, built by the council, run by local residents on a significant site in a conservation area.

The Green is a new public building built by Southwark Council and run by local resident’s group Nunhead Voice.

Nunhead’s Voice shared our belief in the importance of co-design. We led an extensive brief development process with the group, culminating in the shared ambition to create a new community centre that allowed ‘different people to do different activities in the same place at the same time’.

Beyond the core design process with Nunhead’s Voice we worked with them to engage the wider public through 18 months of consultation, including over 20 formal events, workshops and meetings. The list of stakeholders was extensive, with Nunhead’s Voice keen to reach out to the most diverse range of potential users. Regular contact was maintained with the community throughout the design and delivery of the centre, enhancing the delivery of the designs.

The design creates a generous two storey building with a domestic intimacy, a home for diverse publics rather than a public institution.

Located on a significant site in a recently created conservation area, the building samples the forms, materials and myths of Nunhead to create a modern building that is particular to the place and resonates with it’s past.

Nunhead’s previous community centre, like many public buildings in the UK, was forced to close due to onerous running costs so the new building’s design is based around low energy principles to assist its economic viability. The new building is BREEAM excellent and the UK’s first example of a modern dynamically insulated wall system in a non-domestic building.

“As a group we had an inchoate sense of what we wanted the centre to do. AOC helped us not only with the design but in linking the design to our emerging business plan. We made AOC’s life very difficult by frequently contradicting ourselves... It would have been very easy for it to have looked like an awkward mess inside and out, but the final design looked as good on paper as it now does in reality"

Ed Hammond, local resident & Nunhead Voice board member


  • RIBA Regional Award 2017
  • Design Museum’s Designs of the Year 2017
  • MacEwan Award 2017 nomination for ‘architecture for the common good’

Southwark Council & Nunhead's Voice

The Green, London SE15 3QQ

Structural Engineer
Engineers HRW

Services Engineer
Synergy Consulting Engineers

Quantity Surveyor
Appleyard and Trew


Tim Soar

Further Reading

The Observer
Review by Rowan Moore

Architects’ Journal
Review by Jay Merrick

Post-Modernism, Buildings in Britain, Elain Harwood, Geraint Franklin, Batsford, 2017
Available to purchase from Pavilion

The Green
Website for The Green