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© Valerie Bennett
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© Valerie Bennett
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© Valerie Bennett
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© Valerie Bennett
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© Valerie Bennett

UK Centre for Carnival Arts

The UK Centre for Carnival Arts is a vibrant new cultural facility dedicated to carnivals, based in Luton, which has the UK’s second largest carnival after Notting Hill.

Its requirements for space are varied, including a 7 m-high workshop, wet rooms and workshops as well as administrative offices. But it also has to reflect the ethos of carnival and it does this in two ways: One is permanent, with a funky perimeter wall that distinguishes it from its surroundings, which include the large medieval church of St Mary’s; the other, reflecting the nature of carnival, is to provide a passage which can be incorporated into the route of the carnival, symbolically tying the event itself to the place where it is planned, where the floats and other decorative elements are made and where knowledge of it and other carnivals is stored.

The structural concept has to match the vibrant concept with a tight budget. Much of the complex consists of single-storey buildings, which can be quickly and efficiently built with a steel frame and the same material also works for the 12–13 m span of the Mas Camp or covered workshop. The perimeter wall is cavity masonry construction that adapts to the irregular site boundary and has the capacity to be patterned so it can display some of the ideas inside.

Fun and vibrant cultural space to celebrate UK carnivals in Luton

LOCATION
Luton, UK
CLIENT
Luton Carnival Arts Development Trust
ARCHITECT
Ash Sakula Architects
PROJECT VALUE
£ 7.5 million
COMPLETION
2009

AWARDS
  • 2011 RIBA Award