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Myplace Youth Centres
Detail: The Open youth centre in Norwich is the first of what is hoped will be a new generation of 21st-century youth venues. Open was part-financed by the government's "myplace" initiative, which is being billed as the largest ever government investment in youth facilities. Myplace is putting £270m into creating (or improving) youth venues around Britain, with some 60 projects under way.

These youth centres are largely the work of young, up-and-coming architectural firms in partnership with graphic designers. The new youth centres are vibrant, colourful and bold – youthful, one could say. One of the main reasons for this is that most of the myplace schemes are being designed with a high degree of input from young people themselves. In many instances, following a precedent established by Open, local youth forums have been established to work with the architects. And these "client groups" have been pushing their designers to go further.

Open's youth forum, consisting of about 40 people between the ages of 12 and 18, had a say in everything from what activities should go on inside to the graphics, signage and furniture. They even selected the designers: Hudson Architects. Their key demands, says architect Anthony Hudson, were bright colours, decor that spoke to their demographic, plus music and media facilities, a climbing wall, and (high up the list) good toilets. "The kids wanted more radical ideas than the trustees," says Hudson. "A lot of the time you're thinking, 'Is this exciting enough for them?' We've got quite a young team but we all did things like going nightclubbing for research, just to make sure of the levels we needed to hit."

Outside, Open is a stern, Edwardian-looking building; inside it's bursting with playfulness. Funky furniture abounds; on the walls there is bespoke graffiti and Shepard Fairey's Obey artwork. The signage is big and bright. It's not a circus – it feels quite calm – but neither does it conform to sober, grown-up expectations.

Since it opened late last year, Open attracted growing numbers of 12- to 25-year-olds, and hosted sell-out events, as well as regular under-18s club nights and events with local bands. And it's not just the young who are flocking there: architects, politicians and community groups from across the country have been descending on the centre to see if what's been done here can work elsewhere.

For full story see:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/apr/11/myspace-youth-centres
Source: Based on a story by Steve Rose, “Myplace: Putting the youth back in youth centre”, guardian.co.uk, Sunday 11 April 2010
Date: May 14 2010