Development will include an open piazza and 14 two-bedroom flats

Work has formally begun on the £25m, 35,000ft2 Jewish Community Centre in Hampstead, north London.  

The groundbreaking ceremony, held on Friday, was attended by mayor of London Boris Johnson and cultural philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield, whose visits to similar American centres inspired the project.

The centre, which is being built by BAM and was designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, will be the first purpose-built Jewish Community Centre in London when it opens in 2013.     

Alex Lifschutz, director at Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, said:

“Flexibility is at the heart of our design for the Jewish Community Centre. Accommodating a wide range of activities, this will be a truly multi-purpose building for a multi-cultural community and capital city.

“The pavilion and piazza will create a visual landmark set back from the busy Finchley Road that is destined to become a vibrant hub for anyone interested in Jewish life and culture.”

As well as the three-storey community centre, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ design includes an open piazza and a residential block of 14 two-bedroom flats.

The scheme will feature natural ventilation, a brown roof to encourage biodiversity, rainwater harvesting and solar panels.

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony Boris Johnson said:

“This wonderful building will be a fitting home for London’s Jewish community, as well as an excellent new centre for Londoners of all faiths. An outstanding example of a community coming together to make things better for the whole city, this is Team London in action - our own programme to harness thousands of volunteers to improve quality of life in the capital - and I hope it will inspire other Londoners.

“What’s more, it’s being built without a penny of public funds. I salute those whose financial support got the project under way and urge others to help provide the balance of funds needed to complete it.”