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The Florence Institute is the earliest remaining building in Britain to be constructed as a boys recreational youth club. 

Purcell restored the unoccupied building after it was damaged by arson some years ago. We initially investigated the impact of various uses and levels of intervention on the building structure, context and the local environment to inform multiple funding and planning applications.

Much of the damaged structure was preserved and the building fabric restored, with new insertions converting the facility for modern use. Applying a wide range of sustainable first principles enabled the building to achieve a BREEAM Very Good rating. 

The timber trusses in the main hall were exposed to the weather for many years.  Replacement trusses were constructed on site using the original metal straps and some of the original timbers where they could be retained.

The flexible building plan allows for uses that echo the buildings original incarnation, including a large performance space and managed workspaces.  

The original copper dome was removed, reportedly during WWII. To reinstate it, Purcell referred to the initial design details recorded in a single photograph taken around the turn of the 20th century.

The building was restored and reordered with the removal of late 20th Century insertions and extensive repairs to the remaining building fabric.

The new building layout reduces the number of room-within-room arrangements to maximise the use of natural sunlight.

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Project team