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Dreaming Bigger at Youthscape

Youthscape at Bute Mills
Luton, UK

“The design is far beyond anything we had imagined. HOK’s passion and enthusiasm for the project is clear. They also took the time to listen to the young people and incorporate their ideas into the design.”

Chris Curtis
CEO, Youthscape

HOK’s London office has provided pro bono design services to transform a historic industrial building into an active youth center.

Youthscape is a UK charity that helps disadvantaged young people through hands-on therapy, counseling and programming. Having outgrown its office, Youthscape enlisted HOK’s help for the renovation of Bute Mills, a 100-year-old former steam mill in the town center.

HOK’s London office donated more than 380 hours of architecture and interior design services to renovate the charity’s new headquarters. The transformation of the 10,000-sq.-ft. Bute Mills site will expand Youthscape’s capacity to develop new programs and work with more young people. Renovations include new heating and electrical systems, insulation, new windows, significant structural work and a new interior layout.

The new center features vibrant interior finishes, inspiring environmental graphics and colorful furnishings that evoke a youthful vibe while maintaining the integrity of the historic brick structure. Designed with a cozy living room and kitchen, the lower ground floor of Bute Mills includes a multipurpose space where the teenagers can relax. Other floors incorporate space for training, mentoring, events and offices. Underneath the original wood beams on the top floor, staff can work with young people on training and educational initiatives in a large, open space that facilitates collaboration. 

Youthscape envisions that Bute Mills will become a national hub for innovation in youth work. With new conference and event spaces, youth workers and teachers can go through training sessions together and inspire each other. 

Though the building is not aiming for any green certification, sustainable and low-energy strategies were used to keep down operating costs. Timbers removed from the roof were used in the alternative structural solution and in the design of the reception desk. FSC-rated timber, low-VOC, water-based paints and low-energy LED lighting were also used.

Visit Youthscape’s website.


10,000 sq. ft. / 929 sq. m.


Facility Programming
Graphic Design
Interior Design


Contract Magazine – Inspirations Awards


Hours donated


Youth affected