We are excited to have been informed that the Depot has been selected as one of just three winners in this year’s Selwyn Goldsmith Awards for Universal Design. The project was selected from 234 applications entered into the 2018 Civic Trust Awards and the presentation will take place at the Awards Ceremony at Old Trafford next March.
The Depot is a new three-screen community cinema on the site of the modest but much loved existing warehouse of the old Harveys brewery depot in Lewes. The three screens have been discreetly inserted within the saved brick shell, with the major design move being to attach a new glazed extension with the depot structure fully visible as the historic backdrop to the new box office, café bar, restaurant. A Facebook user commented, “First visit yesterday, knocks spots off of the commercial cinemas, architecture beautiful, seats very comfortable and screen better than I have seen before. This feels like an upmarket cinema not a community/charity. The place has a soul!”
The Selwyn Goldsmith Award for Universal Design is given to projects which have demonstrated excellence in providing a scheme which is accessible for all users, from people with decreased mobility, to parents with small children, to people with sensory impairments and everything in-between.
The vision for the project was to provide welcoming and accessible, cultural and social facilities for residents of Lewes and the surrounding region, as well as for visitors, and to engage with audiences and users of the facilities across the age and social spectrum, and regardless of abilities. To this end, local access groups were actively engaged with the project from early design stages and through construction and provided guidance on often little understood issues, such as design for people with dementia, for whom there are special screenings. There are also parent and baby screenings, for which buggy storage is available.
The equipping of the cinema auditoria with digital projection and technology has provided a facility for audio description and subtitles, which can be delivered to personal smart phones. There is infrared within the cinema and induction loops at sales points.
Physical access to all facilities has been incorporated in the design from the point of arrival. There are two on-site disabled parking bays and ramped access to the main entrance from entrance gates on both Pinwell Road South and West. Contrasting paving along the edge of the wheelchair friendly resin bonded gravel paths and ramps, helps to guide blind and visually impaired visitors to the main entrance. There are automatic sliding doors to the main entrance. All sales points are designed to accommodate wheelchair users.
Accessible toilets have been integrated with the toilets for the restaurant, and general visitor toilets. Within the two main cinema auditoria a choice of wheelchair positions has been provided, which are not limited to the front rows, and are integrated with the main body of seating, enabling wheelchair users to sit next to able bodied companions. There is space for guide dogs.
Careful consideration was given in the interior decoration to providing the appropriate level of contrast between elements such as handrails and the surfaces they are against, and door leafs and door linings, to aid people with visual impairment. Braille signage is provided throughout.
The overall result provides an equally uplifting inclusive and enjoyable experience of the Depot for everyone who comes there.