The 2008-9 Transition Hub Vision

 — in detail (for future reference!)

The Transition Hub idea as detailed in our 2008-9 bid which – while unsuccesful in securing funding – has helped develop our vision for sustainable, inspiring and creative ways of meeting our community’s needs.

The Transition Hub will:

  • House a range of services that meet local social, cultural, economic, and environmental needs;
  • Enable PEDAL to develop a range of enterprises that both sustain the building and generate a surplus for re-investment locally;
  • Be a showcase of environmental excellence in the built environment, providing demonstration and inspiration to local people and to other communities;
  • Stimulate and support collective action for a more sustainable Portobello, by bringing local people together and enabling them to make devise and run their own programmes of activity;
  • Offer information and inspiration that equips individuals to make more sustainable choices in their daily lives.

It will do all this in a way which is really attractive, drawing people in because of what they can get from it, while at the same time enabling and encouraging them to put their energy into the community, to realise that we can improve our own lives by improving the life of the community as a whole. An inclusive feel and flexible terms of use will encourage high levels of use and ensure the community ‘owns’ the space in more than just legal terms.

At the same time, sustainable income streams will be generated from a variety of sources – including lets, retail, events and New Deal fees – to ensure the Transition Hub can be sustained and to finance other local initiatives. Our cash flow projections show the hub becoming sustainable by the end of year three and generating profit beyond that time.

The Hub will have a strong cultural and entertainments element, and provide space for activities for all ages. It be used by a wide variety of local groups, such as those focussed on youth, music, culture, the arts, education, human rights, the environment, recreation, and local history. It will encourage synergies between these groups, enabling new connections to be made and cross-fertilisation of ideas. The key will be mixing social activities with local service provision to enhance social capital (networks, trust and reciprocity).

PEDAL’s pioneering environmental ethos will be demonstrated through the design of the building, which will be assessed against BREEAM criteria with a requirement to achieve an exemplary performance equivalent to an ‘outstanding’ accreditation. The building’s carbon performance over its entire lifecyle will be assessed at the outset, enabling us to design a building that is almost entirely carbon neutral, while also significantly reducing its running costs. Passive design features will minimise energy demand, and residual demand will be met via on-site generation from renewable sources. Materials used will be natural, durable, high in recycled content, recyclable and locally sourced where possible. Rainwater will be reclaimed and re-used which together with low flush toilets and low flow taps will reduce water use to a minimum. The use of natural materials and natural ventilation will aim to provide an internal environment which is as healthy as possible.

Alongside the provision of high quality information displays and educational programmes within the building, these features will create a place that both inspires and equips people to take action to reduce their impact on the environment, save money and improve their quality of life.

Portobello Transition Hub will be designed to respond to changing local needs over time. However there are clear priorities at present, including:

  • A large space for events that showcase local talent and local produce – such as food markets, fairs, musical performances, exhibitions, drama, parties, and a film club with screenings based on DVD technology.
  • Smaller spaces available for hire to commercial and community organisations, providing for offices, meetings, training, youth groups and a crèche.
  • A music recording studio will be let on a commercial basis, also enabling the Hub to support training programmes for aspiring young musicians and sound engineers;
  • A small café and shop, providing hot and cold food and drink, a bookshop, and a sales outlet for local food producers;
  • An exhibition area that enables visitors to find out about local groups and activities, how they can reduce their environmental impact and a local exchange trading scheme (LETS).