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Our featured project this month is the 1,550m Quarterhouse project in Folkestone. 

Ok, so it is bit of a throwback to circa 2009, but we feel it's a much warranted throwback as the building holds as much architectural value today, as it did when it was first built. And we were reminded of its impressiveness when we spoke about the project at last week's RIBA J PIP Seminar. 

The Quarterhouse is a home for performing arts and offers a creative hub for businesses and the public alike. It formed the start of Folkestone's masterplan, bringing a new sense of identity to the community. 

The project was funded by charitable trust, The Creative Foundation, whose aim was to inject a new lease of life into the area and transform it into the beacon for the creative arts community. 

From the outset the project had a strong creative vision, which was brought to life by Alison Brooks Architects. Alison Brooks said: "the intention was to convey the fragility and translucency of scallop shells with the building façade. I hoped to represent Folkestone's seaside heritage in a contemporary, sculptural manner.

"By making a building glow with the energy of its performers and audiences, I felt the Quarterhouse architecture could theatrically contribute to a new cultural identity."

Cadisch MDA's Meshtec Ambasciata was specified for the project, which Dezeen described as a reflection of the animation and movement within the building. This movement was captured in the ever-changing perception of the façade's texture and pattern, which was accentuated through the two-colour waterproof membrane finish. 

The main challenge for us at the time was achieving the curvature of the mesh to emulate scallop shapes and provide a reference to stage curtains. In the end, we actually bent each panel by hand around a barrel, as it proved too intricate to achieve this using a machine. 

Last week we spoke to the award winning architect, Alison Brooks once again to find out about her experience with the product and how she views the building today. 

"Cadisch MDA expanded mesh is mallable so it was a perfect material to form the array of vertical flutes. When lit from behind it has an inherent translucency - it combines fragility and robustness. Using this dual nature of the material and combining it with curvature and light, we were able to create a quite magical effect: I like to think of Quarterhouse as architecture in celebration of a creative community.

"I'm delighted that the project continues to serve Folkestone’s arts and business communities as a truly accessible, multi-purpose arts venue. The building has become a well-loved gem in Folkestone’s cultural fabric, instantly recognisable by its glowing mesh façade.

"Many years after completing this project my practice still receives compliments from a worldwide audience.

"The Quarterhouse enigmatic façade and strong architectural presence seem to capture the imagination of everyone who sees it, and their anticipation of a dramatic experience.” 

Since completion, the project has gone on to win the RIBA National Award 2009, RIBA South East Regional Award 2009, RIBA Stirling Prize Midlist 2009 and the Kent Design Award for Best Public Building.

To read more about the project or Alison Brooks Architects click here.

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