The YMCA has taken over a run-down building in central Southend, in Essex, to create an eco-hub aimed at ‘inspiring and encouraging’ young people to create their dream eco-business.

By appointing both Artillery Architecture and Interior Design the charity has created 200m² of new employment space.

Main positive outcomes of the projects are:

·Retrofitting and bringing back into use a dilapidated historic building, securing improvements to the urban environment through quality design and combining ecological conservation principles.

·Creating an eco-efficient flagship edifice achieving a BREEAM “very good” rating.

·Improving an existing site that had no ecological value by incorporating a flora and fauna scheme to attract wildlife and contribute to enhanced biodiversity.

The project has delivered five affordable and managed workspace units, multi-purpose rooms for group work and meeting rooms and conference facilities.

With on-site support and access to business networks, it will also provide young entrepreneurs with advice and support to help them develop eco-efficient, ethically aware, enterprises.

Chief executive of Southend’s YMCA, Syrie Cox, said: “In 2009 Southend YMCA purchased a derelict Victorian stables building situated within the curtilage of a grade 1 listed church – our vision was to sympathetically restore the building and enhance its environmental performance creating an incubation unit for disadvantaged young people starting out in business.

“Artillery met and exceeded our expectations creating a beautiful scheme which successfully combined design innovation with sustainability expertise and value for money.”

Luke Walsh

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