Published on 24 July 2023
Youth First’s TNG Youth & Community Centre has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2023 Architecture Today Awards on the ten-year anniversary of its opening.
TNG has been selected as one of 35 project finalists that have stood the test of time to ‘deliver on their environmental, functional, community and cultural ambitions.’
It was the ambition, vision and perseverance from Lewisham's young people, that took the building from a big idea at a youth club session, through four years of hard work, to create this award-winning space for themselves and for the next generation to come.
Shaun Suter, who was part of the original team of youth workers, spoke about the project being shortlisted,
“I’ve worked with over 300 young people in this building, we know the skills, ability, creativity and vision is there, all it needs is the opportunity, space, and investment to bring it out. This building, all the facilities, the amazing climbing wall, which was completely innovative 10 years ago, all that came from our young people, who were just school children at the time.
To get this recognition from Architecture Today makes me so proud, it shows the calibre of their achievement. This building shows to the world, when young people are engaged and invested in, they are able to achieve remarkable things.”
Rashan McDonald was one of those young people. At 13 years old his youth group started a project that would shape the next four years of their lives, he spoke about what gave him that ambition and purpose at such a young age,
“It was a very special youth leader, Gerry Devine that spotted our potential and talent at the youth club. He saw that in us and then gave us the opportunity to develop, on a huge project. We thought, ‘Are we really going to create a building? And we did’.
“We knew from the beginning that we were building a space, not just for ourselves but for our community and the next generation to come, that’s why we named the building ‘TNG, the New Generation’. That’s what gave us the motivation to keep going even when it got tough and took years. The skills we learned, negotiating, designing, speaking and championing the project at committee meetings, planning meetings, all that gave us the foundations for leadership in later life.”
Rashan went on to be a youth leader at Youth First, and after graduating in sports science from Brunel University began working with young people, with Millwall Community, Kicks and the Palace for Life foundation continuing in that investment for a new generation.
"My work now for StreetGames, which involves place-based spaces for young people to develop their sports, creativity and leadership skills and I’m really excited that one of those projects will be coming home to the TNG building, this amazing space that we designed, it’s full circle."
Dieter Kleiner, from RCKa architects worked closely with Youth First’s young people and youth team on the design and stated,
“It is fantastic that the continuing positive impact of TNG and the amazing co-design journey we went on together is being recognised, and how fitting to also be on the ten year anniversary since we opened this building together. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with brilliant young people like Rashan and see them realise their full potential – it is projects like TNG that make all the hard work worthwhile – all buildings should be designed like this!"
Gülen Petty, Interim CEO of Youth First
“We are absolutely delighted TNG, The New Generation Youth and Community centre is a finalist for this very special Architecture Today award. An award for delivery on the promise, vision and investment in our young people. It is wonderful that as we celebrate this ten-year achievement, we break ground on our next multi-million pound youth club project, Riverside, where we take this ambition and vision and invest in the next generation of young people who will be shaping both their community and their future.”
Councillor Chris Barnham, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Lewisham Council, said:
“I’m delighted that the TNG Youth and Community Centre has been shortlisted for this prestigious award. The council has worked with and supported Youth First over the last ten years to deliver a range of services at the premises as part of our commitment to providing first-rate youth facilities. This national recognition is a fitting tribute to the innovation and creativity shown by local young people, who worked so hard to help shape the space all those years ago. It’s also a reminder of why we remain committed to continuing to harness young people’s talents and ambition when creating new spaces for them to meet and play today.”