Engaging with communities, creative vision leading to good quality design, strategic thinking and innovative problem solving are the cornerstones to our approach.
Welcome to Urban Quarter!
There is much to like about this small development of houses and apartments being built by Bellway Homes on former Penguin books print works site in central Reading. Self contained studios above garages, rooftop gardens, car charging points and a car club scheme all provide contemporary edges to suit current lifestyle trends. Overseas investors have been snapping these units up as imminent TFL links into central London further strengthen the appeal of its location.
KINGMAN WAY, NEWBURY RACECOURSE.
It was with some excitement that I recently managed to visit Frankel House, built by David Wilson Homes and offering incredible views across the racecourse. When on the balcony of an apartment here, I’m sure you would feel like your in the grandstand as a race unwinds in front of you. The design also very much reflects a grandstand so that the horses won’t be spooked thinking they are running towards a housing estate and not the finishing post! The concept of introducing housing into a national sporting venue has been very successfully achieved here and it is no surprise that Sandown Racecourse is now looking to follow suit.
HIX OYSTER & FISH TRUCK, LYME REGIS.
As one of the founding Rock Star chef and restaurteurs, having seen his national bar and restaurant group fall into administration following COVID 19 it is heartening to see Mar Hix bounce back from his Dorset origins by opening this Fish Truck selling local catch, some of which he smokes at home in a garden shed..He has been quoted as saying that being able to start again has been an ‘Act of Cod’. I’m sure it won’t be long before he gets his name back in lights on the global stage and others will take inspiration from his journey during these troubled times.
ashford international studios, kent.
Ashford Borough Council have recently approved a £250m, 240,000
sq ft development that will include four TV and film studios, as well as an
educational hub, film school, 120-room hotel and 302 private residential units. The proposed site is the direlict Newtown railway works, a locomotive manufacturing site from 1847 until it shut in the 1980’s and incorporates the Uk’s longest listed building. It will create 3000 jobs when complete. Whilst the design of the 18 storey hotel building is concerning locals Gerry Clarkson and his team at Ashford Borough Council should be congratulated for championing another major investment scheme into the town.
WOKINGHAM TOWN CENTRE REGENERATION.
Wokingham Borough Council should be applauded for stepping up and delivering and £125m multi phased regeneration of theri town centre. With the financial challenges facing high streets across the world it is imperative that the public sector step in and take a long term view. Town centres can then be remodelled to provide attractive streets and places offering suitable shops, entertainment venues and eating places that will provide a springboard to local economies and communities going foward.. This project involves a full scope of mixed uses including retail, cinema, hotel, residential, extensive public realm and a variety of leisure facilities.
NORTH QUAY, HAYLE.
It is with some relief that having obtained permission for the original masterplan and enabling works over ten years ago, the first housing on North Quay, Hayle is now coming forward. The original native architect, Matt Willaims of FCB Studios has stayed with the project throughout. His design thoughtfully echoes the narrow wharfe lanes of the historic railway routes that originally weaved around the old quay buildings. The views of the tidal harbour and estuary together with ease of access to the golden beaches of St Ives Bay provide spectacular selling points for this long awaited scheme.
Nationwide Building Society whose
predecessors were instrumental in bring forward Letchworth, the first of our
garden cities is back in pioneering mode with Oakfield, a housing scheme which
will create a new intergenerational community in Swindon. While the 239 new homes have been designed to meet the needs of diverse households, the development focuses on creating an intergenerational and supportive community. Having listened to the local community heigher ceiling heights, wider garage widths and large public open spaces are being built into build specifications. The aim is unusually not profit but seeking to find a new neighbourhood blueprint that others may wish to follow and replicate across the country.
SPRINGFIELD GARDENS, SOUTHMOOR.
Springfield Meadows is a small development of 25 climate
positive houses on low density layout incorporating a wildflower meadow,
orchard and pond. The mix of private and affordable units have all been
designed to Passivhaus standards. A mix of hot and cold ventilation systems,
photovoltaics combined with highly thermal efficient floors and walls provide a
balanced output of ‘ net zero energy’. This has been achieved with build costs
only nominally in excess of standard traditional build rates. Once volume house
builders start adopting this approach on a large scale there is no doubt
opportunity for these costs to reduce significantly. Greencore Construction are
clearly ahead of the curve here and are now ramping up to build 100 units next
MARRIOT COURTYARD HOTEL, OXFORD.
This is a hidden gem of a site in the centre of Oxford behind the castle which has been developed to create a recently opened six storey 140 bed hotel with a roof terrace offering fine views of the City and adjacent river and canal. Both natural stone and traditional brick were selected and approved by English Heritage to sit comfortably and sympathatically with the immediate context of a former brewery, norman castle and former pub with stables . The Archeoligical investigations were enthusiastically followed by the City Council retracing the history of the site back to the 12th Century.
vita student village, YORK.
Located within the grounds of the former Grade II listed St. Joseph Convent, the new Student Village provides 644 bedrooms across 15 new and 3 listed buildings. Distinctive developments zones were created complementing the setting and scale of the listed buildings and surrounding housing using the existing topography to define their boundaries. These zones create a collegiate sense of place in a car free environment. Several complimenting external cladding materials were used for the buildings with distinctive external staircases for each block which allows residents to experience the landscaping and views across the city. The main historical convent building, and chapel have been converted to provide communal facilities. The internal fit out of these areas is befitting of the overall quality of the scheme to the envy of many a university student across the country.
HOLMES ROAD STUDIOS, CAMDEN.
Holmes Road studios is a beautiful new homeless facility providing high quality residential accommodation together with training and counselling facilities all laid out across a delightful new courtyard garden. Most of the accommodation is arranged in little studio houses forming terraces fronting the garden, in an alms house typology. The garden creates a homely, domestic atmosphere in the hostel. It will give participating residents an interest and outlet for their energy. Residents will be supported to acquire skills and confidence to move on to independent living. A truly inspiring authority project located on a former Workhouse site.
ASHFORD DESIGNER OUTLET, kent
A 9,300 sqm extension to the originally Richard Rogers designed Ashford
Designer Outlet has recent opened. It provides 45 new stores, new car park and creates Europe’s largest living green wall befitting of this Garden of England location.
It will be fascinating to see how
marketing efforts will evolve over the next few years to build footfall of the highest
spending tourists and wider catchment customers. The innovative s106 agreement has some town
centre controls in it so that brands that would be expected to open in Ashford
town centre cannot open in the outlet, unless approved by council.
BOUNDARY PARK, DIDCOT
The Boundary Park pavilion is the centre piece of the
leisure offer at Taylor Wimpey’s Great Western Park 3,300 unit masterplan. Operated by a locally formed Sports
Association it is the new home to local rugby, football and cricket clubs with
a plethora of pitches available to these teams. The venue is also a community
facility that can be hired for private events locally.
New housing estates have often been accused of creating souless environments so it is refreshing to see this large scale state of the art facility providing the equivalent of the traditional village green in a modern setting to inspire the wellbeing of local residents. Other facilities inclue two primary schools, secondary school, technical college, Asda foodstore, pub and the usual array of local shops.
LITTLE KELHAM, SHEFFIELD
One-hundred-and-fifty-unit mixed use scheme with integrated carports, roof terraces and green roofs built on former steel works site in Sheffield. There will also be a nursery, a hotel, office spaces, leisure and retail facilities, cafes, bars and an on-site bakery.
The scheme reconciles the character of the existing site with the style of the new buildings. The roof line, which follows a sawtooth pattern that mimics the existing buildings, is a nice touch that further enhances the integration of old and new.Houses will be constructed to the Passivhaus standard incorporating super insulated, airtight buildings that will also incorporate sophisticated heat recovery systems which capture waste heat and reuse it for heating. Communal gardens allow for a high-density scheme in this highly desirable Kelham Island location.
STANSFIELD PARK, OXFORD
It was a great pleasure to recently tour this new indoor/outdoor education centre whose aim is to encourage the pursuit of science and enterprise. The facility provides an exploration zone, classrooms and an auditorium for its visitors to enjoy through to office space for new science and technology companies. There are woodland trails meadows and ponds to explore within 15 acres of woodland,
The buildings themselves have been sensitively designed by ADP architects using local timber panels as render and include an impressive array of sustainability measures including green roofs, passive cooling, air source heat pumps and PV roof panels. This is a truly inspiring example of a Philanthropy project which is genuinely and most generously reaching out to the next generation, whilst paying homage to its Oxford Instruments founders and funders with the public art feature that proudly frames the landscaping area which welcomes you at its entrance. Its no surprise that various judging panels are already visiting!
ST CHAD’S. TIBURY, ESSEX
St Chad’s is a new housing development for Thurrock Council providing a mix of housing for private and affordable rent. The scheme comprises 128 new homes, a mix of two, three and four bed houses that give new life to a redundant brownfield site.Two key house types, the town house and the courtyard house offer variation across the development and provide a mix of house sizes to meet different occupants needs.
St Chad’s striking asthetics raise the bar in terms of design quality, while the careful considered mix of affordable and market sales housing is intended to improve the social mix and support a balanced neighbourhood. The development further meets the council’s aim of creating more affordable housing but is also hoping to raise aspirations.
PERGOLA CAFE’, V & A MUSEUM GARDENS
A simple contemporary structure to replace a former cafe’ in the Madejsji gardens of the V & A. museum. The flexibility of the design here is key in terms of the counter being able to be approached from all sides and be used as a cafe’ or event space. It can also be completely dismantled and rebuilt for special events as its parts were thoughtfully fabricated off site to remove the need for cranes of complex lifting equipment. Such facilities are key to ensuring visitors enjoy their visit and thus help to maintain and enhance footfall. Benugo operate the cafe’.
GASHOLDERS, KINGS CROSS
The industrial heritage of Kings Cross is intergral to its regeneration and the triplet cast iron gasholders is the most distinct centrepiece. Sitting comfortably within these structures are the three residential drums providing high quality iconic apartments, clad in a delicate and intricate asthetic of steel and glass panels with a veil of external shutters. The nearby gasholder park provides a striking urban garden and public space and combined the reuse of these heritage gasholder frames form a key part to the renaissance of the area.
MOLLIE’S HOTEL & DINER, FARINGDON
A welcome new entrant to the budget hotel market is Soho House who recently opened their first roadside motel and diner with seventy-nine rooms, general store, restaurant and drive thru. This classic 1950’s American roadside themed concept offers the usual ‘Soho’ chic interiors in the common areas with their take on budget hotel rooms at a price of £50-£75 per night with family bunk rooms aslo on offer. Technology is at the forefront of the customer experience with the motel’s official app used to reserve rooms, tables, conduct check-ins and check-outs and even unlock rooms. If all goes to plan the concept is expected to be rolled out across the UK.
MAPLETON CRESCENT, WANDSWORTH
Continuing the modular build theme Pocket Living has recently built this impressive 27 storey tower on a contrained site of less than 500 sqm. The preabricated g;azed modules were made offsite and craned into position around the steel frame. Instead of traditional brickwork a facade of terracotta tiles were designed by a local ceramisist and artist which are self cleaning and reflect the natural surrounds. It also changes colour in different light conditions thus creating a ‘chameleon-effect’. Three types of panel were designed to give texture and depth to the three sided tower. The views from the communal landscaped roof terrace on the 23rd floor continue the wow factor!
IRWELL WATERSIDE, MANCHESTER
Serial pioneers Urban Splash’s first modular build development which allowed purchasers to have input on internal layouts as well as speeding up build programme; improving quality,sustainability and reducing build costs. Modular builds will undoubtably have an ever increasing part to play in the UK housing market with Legal & General, Urban Splash and Berkeley Homes being the most high profile frontrunning investors to date. The benefits of this construction method will increase further as the market grows and matures. We predict the variety of cladding materials that can be used will present opportunities for bold and innovative facade designs. These should create variety and vibrancy to the established street scene or estate but may test the resolve of planning authorities in some locations!
COURTYARD HOUSING, BARKING
By distilling the key elements of the traditional housing type of almshouses with a contemporary twist, this 39 unit retirement scheme meets the needs of its users whilst being of an appropriate scale to the site and its surrounding context. The communal garden helps to foster a sense of community between occupants.
With a growing ageing population, we predict major housebuilders will increasingly turn their attention to the retirement sector as a variety of product on large sites will increase annual sales rates and help meet national build targets whilst also releasing previously oversized family homes into the local market.
COAL DROPS YARD,KINGS CROSS
This new 50 unit shopping and leisure destination opened with impeccable tming to benefit from Christmas trade.earlier this week. The mix of heritage and contemporary design has again worked fantastically well together to create an inspiring environment with high quality public realm so to entice customers in. An innovative leasing strategy focussing on a more eclectic mix of brands offering quality, craft, innovation and brand experience should clear;y define this new district from its competition.
tHE HOTWALLS STUDIOS, OLD PORTSMOUTH.
This impressive restoration project has converted the former artillery barracks and arches into thirteen artist studios/workshops and one restaurant. All leases are from 3 months to 3 years so to provide flexibility with more favourable terms available to new starts. There are a variety of artisan and cultural events held here throughout the year so to create extra buzz and excitement. The lighting and public realm have been completed to a standard befitting this national heritage landmark. Well worth a visit.
DUKES ENTRANCe; SELFRIDGES, LONDON
This is a triumph of sleek design combining two historic landmark department store buildings so to create some 5,000 sqm of contemporary luxury retail space for the store’s new accessories hall. This underlines the need for department stores and retailers to continually invest and delight their customers in terms of both product and place so to keep enticing them back to store and maintain their brand loyalty.
Ocado cfc, ANDOVER
Ocado’s Customer Fulfillment Centrea (CFC) vividly illustrate how AI technology is now transforming the retail landscape. Using a grid system, robots assemble customer orders using an air traffic control system to allow 700 robots to produce 65,000 customer orders a week from this 240,000 sq ft warehouse facility. Ocodo are selling this technology across the globe. This now represents the challenge of a generation for Town Centre’s who need to change and adapt to thrive going forward,. Each town or city will need to develop its own plan to succeed with Product, People, Placemaking & Passion forming part of the mix.
It was exciting to see this £160m mixed use scheme comprising apartments, offices, hotel, restaurants and Everyman cinema coming out of the ground in this spectacular and truely unique waterside location directly overlooking the World Heritage site which includes Durham Cathedral. This scheme will transform the currently lacking restaurant offer in the City and to the envy of some peers provide a high quality mixed use environment which will be compelling for tourists and locals to enjoy for years to come.
This pionerring eco town designated development plans to deliver 6,000 homes over 20 years and has claimed to be the UK’s only large scale carbon neutral development. Lead by A2 Dominion it will provide schools, an eco business park and new local centre with community facilities all linked by internal cycleways. The 40% open space and green infrastucture land use across the whole site will provide a country park, sports pitches, adventure walking and leisure routes , allotments and a woodland cemetery. The scheme should set new enviromental standards that many future communities will seek to follow.
This 113 apartment scheme which is due to open this summer is a great example of how the retirement living sector has transformed its approach to design and community in recent years. A series of courtyards taking reference from ancient settlements of the area with central kitchen gardens and walkways in a cloister style create the framework. A wellness Spa with indoor and outdoor pool/ponds, gym , care and therapy provision, restaurant, cafe and snug provide the communal lifestyle within a central village hall building. Soho Farmhouse for the more experienced resident beckons!
GLOUCESTER SERVICES. M5 MOTORWAY
This building certainly fulfilled the client brief of ‘creating something sleek and contemporary, but at the same time crafted with a strong presence of natural materials’. With the focus on locally sourced goods and resources internally this facility is a real game changer in its sector and well worth an occasional detour to enjoy it!
ACQUISITION OF THE CHILTERNS shopping CENTRE, HIGH WYCOMBE
Acting on behalf of Dandara and Scoop AM, Urban Quarter advised on the off market purchase of The Chilterns Shopping Centre, High Wycombe. The Chiltern Centre is a 30 unit scheme orginally built by Crown Estate in the 1980’s and is anchored by Primark and Wilkinson. Urban Quarter now look forward to working with the new owners on enhancement and repositioining opportunities.
POrTOBELLO SQUARE. LONDON
This classy 1000 unit scheme successfully brings together modern interpretations of mansion blocks,terraced and mews housing with a new London square and impressive public realm. The transformation from the previous high rise 1960’s council block estate is startling and interesting to note that the street patterns have reverted back to a previous era. This is a best in class housing association scheme ensuring no loss of affordable housing or design differential in its reprovision.
ARDLEY WASTE MANAGEMENT FACILITY, BICESTER
There is alot to commend about this building. This waste to energy plant annually diverts 300,000 tonnes of Oxfordshire’s non- recycable waste which was previously buried in landfill and with it creates enough electricity to power around 38,000 homes. The building itself strikes a bold balance of cutting edge industrial with softer tones and edges to reflect its isolated rural location. Its particuarly impressive like its couterpart off the M1 in Sheffield when lighting up after dark. An ideal land use for prominant sites with significant levels of motorway noise.
RUSHDEN LAKES, NORTHANTS
This recently opened £140m mixed use scheme is leading the way in providing a truly intergrated retail and outdoor leisure experience. In addition to a stellar line up of retail brands and good selection of restaurants and cafes in Phase One the scheme incorporates a 14 acre lake for water sports and wildlife plus a SSSI woodland. This much quoted planning case has made a welcome return to the limelight having delivered an innovative out of town destination which is already proving to act as a catalyst for wider development.
Whilst After some 20 years in the making the £440m Westgate Shopping Centre opened on 24th October with two levels of retail anchored by a John Lewis Department store in a L shaped circuit with a mall width designed to accommodate the projected 15m footfall. The Wow factor is provided by a terrace of restaurants with views across the dreaming spires of the city. It will be fascinating to see how the City Centre responds with the prime retail pitch having shifted overnight.
graven hill, Bicester
Whilst the nation grapples with how to solve the housing crisis it is exciting to see projects coming forward taking a different approach. Graven Hill will be the UK’s largest self build scheme totalling 1,900 units over the next 10 years. The unit sizes range from apartments to 6 bed houses and with a fast track design code in place there are options to buy your own serviced plot or a built shell so you can customize the interior layout and finishes. A plot shop in the town centre, right to build toolkits and plot passports further underlines the innovative approach with many of the first plots released going to sealed best bids.
THE LEXICAN, BRACKNELL
Bracknell town centre has been transformed with the opening of this 60,000 sqm £275m retail and leisure scheme anchored by Fenwicks Department store, M & S and a 12 screen Cineworld Multiplex with a 4DX screen. This represents the first of the first wave New Towns dating back to the late 1940’s to benefit from a new town centre. The scheme is over 90% let and retail rents in the town have now doubled. With Westgate, Oxford and the extension at Bicester Village due to open next month shoppers in the Thames Valley will be spoilt for choice when considering new Christmas shopping destinations this year!
MERCADO SAN MIGUEL, MADRID
In terms of bursting energy and life into Town Centres markets are a hard act to beat and this one is a real tourist magnet in the centre of Madrid. The historic detailing of this building is a big part of the atmosphere. Could building a contemporary equivalent create opportunitIies in the UK where town and city centres are seeking to enliven their offer and drive footfall?
GOLDEN MEDE HOUSING PROJECT, Waddesdon
Following on from the great traditions of estate housing by the Rothchild family in Waddesdon and Tring which date back to the 19th century this new contemporary development is sure to provide an equally timeless and sought after housing solution. Emphasis on design, materials, living standards and connection to the landscape and the neighbouring Waddesdon Estate will ensure the success of this project. It will be interesting to see where they pitch the price levels at the marketing launch later this month.
WARWICK HALL COMMUNITY CENTRE, BURFORD
This is a great example of conservation architecture extending a community asset in a very sensitive location within the curtilage of a Grade 1 Listed church. The writer remembers this building well from school days! Acanthus Clews architects will no doubt be picking up some awards for this project in the coming 12 months.
Haslemere Industrial Estate, London
Great example of brownfield regeneration with South West London industrial Estate being transformed into sleek apartments. The material pallet is very pleasing to the eye but the costs of which may only befit a sought after London postcode.
Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Laverstock Mill, Hamphire
The expression of brand identity together with extravagance in architecture here is quite extraordinary. I’m very much looking forward to paying a visit as I understand a warm welcome is also assured! (Heatherwick Studio Architects).
Following on from the much acclaimed Victoria Gate, Leeds it’s great to see some more crisp contemporary interpretation that ACME are shaping up for Chester City Centre. Phase 1 of this scheme due to open by end of 2019.
13 March 2017
Cheltenham or Cannes week!
Good luck to all those of you are lucky enough to be paying a visit to the Cheltenham Festival this week. May the sun shine on punters and not the bookies for a change and also hoping Native River can win the big one! Sunshine guaranteed for all those venturing to Cannes!
A day in the life of Ecobuild 2017!
Having not been to Ecobuild for 5 years having lost a bit of its edginess, it’s now a much slicker affair with an impressive line up of speakers and panel discussions.
Everyman Cinema, Liverpool
It is great to see a client and design team really push the boundaries and develop such a creative and fun facade. Hopefully others will now follow suit and a revival of cinema architecture can follow as it seems like the majority of budgets have been spent on the interior since the art deco era! Haworth Tomkins architects were worthy winners of a Sterling prize here.
Brass Building, Accordia, Cambridge
I never tire of admiring how the landscaping in this instance inspired and shaped a very elegant example of contemporary residential architecture.
With the breadth of experience gained over 20 years in both major client side developer and consultancy roles Urban Quarter are well placed to provide clients with insightful and informed advice so to create and deliver projects that communities can be proud of.
Engaging with communities, creative vision leading to good quality design, strategic thinking and innovative problem solving are the cornerstones to our approach.
Welcome to Urban Quarter!