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The £90m building that is for everyone in Brent

Brent Council's Civic Centre Brent Council's Civic Centre

Saturday, June 22, 2013
4:00 PM

For those who have walked down Olympic Way or spent any time around Wembley Stadium in the last few years it has been almost impossible to ignore the relentless developments.

First came the stadium and the new Wembley City, but amidst the pair the £90m Brent Civic Centre, the new headquarters of Brent Council, has been gradually taking shape.

Max Walters visited the centre, which officially opened its doors last week, to have a look around.

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Aktar Choudhury in Brent's Civic CentreAktar Choudhury in Brent's Civic Centre

From the outside Brent Civic Centre does not look like a traditional town hall.

The seven-storey building near Wembley Stadium, lined with glass panels and metallic beams and a sphere dubbed the “Drum” rising through its middle, is reminiscent of the financial districts of Shanghai or Singapore.

But this is not your standard town hall. It combines its council duties with a library, customer service areas, wedding venues, café and will be home to 2,000 staff members.

According to project manager Aktar Choudhury it will be a space for the council and the community.

A library with study spaces, iPads and books is being filled ahead of its opening next week.

Up to three weddings can be held at one time in the spacious marriage chambers, a welcome change from the previous venue in Brent’s town hall, while the communal café provides a social point in the heart of the building. As far as council services go, everything is catered for under one roof as staff will be centralised from 14 sites across the borough.

A staircase and escalator on entry leads the way to hundreds of council offices, meeting rooms and the “Drum”, part of which will form the council chamber.

The building’s uniqueness is its focus on sustainability and the environment which has resulted in it being named the UK’s “greenest” public building by environmental assessors BREEAM.

Its boiler runs on fish oil and automatic windows, which measure the temperature outside and operate accordingly, minimise the need to use central heating, while light-emitting diodes are used throughout to save on energy costs. There is also room for 250 bicycles.

“Everything in here, from the windows to the lights and even the way staff will operate their computers, is designed to save energy,” Mr Choudhury says.

It is estimated, the centre, which was criticised for its £90m cost, will save the council £2.5m a year. “As well as saving money, the amount of time people will save on travel will be huge as they can do everything here,” Mr Choudhury adds.

“There’s something for everyone and it is really important to stress the building is for everyone in Brent.”

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