COACH, or the Centre for Outdoor Activity and Community Hub, is the exciting result of a vision to provide access for youth, sport, education and community in the heart of Taunton. This new facility is supported by the surrounding schools, colleges and community groups and has been realised through a successful crowdfunding campaign. An iconic, functional and sustainable building, it accommodates a café with outdoor seating, canoeing and cycling facilities, boat and equipment store, meeting spaces and other social events.
The Hub replaces an existing toilet block with a sustainable and functional town centre facility on the banks of the River Tone. The design of the development faced the immediate challenge of building on a flood plain and gaining Environmental Agency consent by having an elevated ground floor. The solution is both functional and creative: on the ground floor the centre has a rowing, kayaking, canoeing and bike store, as well as a store for the Friends of French Weir and the Friends of Longrun Meadow.
The building had to be piled as it was so close to the river. The building was then constructed as a steel frame sitting on top of a ring beam linking the piles. The use of external materials, especially the combination of golden oak and black emberred Millboard rainscreen cladding means that visually it recedes into its setting adjacent to the river within the park.