Norwich youth venue earns nationl acclaim at awards ceremony

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A Norwich youth venue has been praised after just missing out on a national award at an awards ceremony in London .

The Norwich OPEN Youth venue has been awarded ‘Commended’ status at the RICS 2012 Awards Grand Final at the Savoy Hotel, London.

The state-of-the art youth venue, based at Bank Plain, was one of more than 500 building projects entered in the awards which celebrate the built and natural environment.

And while it failed to land the national award for Community Benefit, it still managed to make a big impression.

Stephen Boniface, chair of the East of England Regional Judges, said: “We’re delighted that an entry from the East of England achieved so highly in the RICS 2012 Awards.

“Above all, OPEN remains an asset to Norwich; making a positive difference to the lives of young people in Norfolk.”

RICS Awards celebrate innovation in the land, property and construction sectors. Regional finals were held in May this year where entrants competed in the categories of Building Conservation, Community Benefit, Design and Innovation and Regeneration. The Norwich OPEN Youth Centre won Community Benefit and Project of the Year for the East of England.

Michael Wyldbore-Smith, Community Benefit Judge, said: “Run by the OPEN Youth Trust, a winner of the ‘Queen’s Award for Volunteering’ for its work with vulnerable young people, this former bank has been transformed into a state-of-the-art entertainment and conference centre, dance studios and even a climbing wall.”

The Lind Trust gave the building to OPEN Youth Trust, an organisation established to develop and subsequently operate the project. The project also received funding from other organisations including a £1.3 million grant from myplace - a funding stream established by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Department for Education to deliver high quality youth venues.

Housed in a large 1930s Grade II listed former bank building; it has been transformed into a successful and stylish venue that accommodates a wide range of uses aimed at young people from Norwich and offers a prototype for youth venues elsewhere.

Today the building houses a 1450-capacity concert hall in the former banking hall, a 450-capacity nightclub for under-18s the vaults, a learning zone and media centre, recording studios, classrooms and workshop space, dance studios, and a cafe and a restaurant. At the heart of the building, a climbing wall rises from the basement and through the cafe to the top floor.

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