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Family Centre – NCH Action for Children

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

We were commissioned to design a family centre for an organisation called Action For Children, and so the new Greenleys Family Centre in Milton Keynes was opened in June 2000.

The new building had to be designed to fulfil a number of roles. It had to provide a “drop-in facility” for adults and children in a similar way to a local community centre. With play areas both inside and out, and kitchen facilities. The building had a more serious side too, as counselling rooms and administrative office space were also required.

It was an essential requirement that in addition to meeting the various user's needs, it had to give a relaxed non-institutional vibe. Budgetary considerations dictated a very compact and efficient layout with a “no frills” building. Nonetheless, by careful design, we managed to create an interesting and functional building. Our philosophy of making a virtue out of necessity means that even the building fabric can be used to enliven an otherwise mundane building.


The organisation of the spaces was difficult in that the orientation, direction of access and garden resulted in North facing rooms. To provide at least a degree of natural sunlight, a tower was introduced that illuminates the centre of the building. The tower improves the roofscape externally but, even more importantly also creates a “stack effect” driven ventilation system. Generally, renewable resources and a green agenda were at the forefront of the design.

The building was delivered on time and on budget.


Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.

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