New River Arms
The proposal was for the demolition of the existing building and erection of a new part 3 / part 4 storey building with a single commercial unit on the ground floor and 45 new residential units. The proposal includes the provision of 76 car parking spaces, 48 of which are located within a secured internal area. The building is designed as a cascading series of volumes increasing in size to address the lower buildings in the area to the north and taller buildings to the south.
In order to optimise the layout of the site, the building is designed to follow the site boundary. However, to avoid overbearing nature of a singular block, the building is divided into smaller volumes that regularly cascade along the boundary line. While the proposal is for a single building, the form and massing is broken into a number of smaller elements to ensure that the overall scale is not overbearing to the surrounding area and the passers-by.
The roofline is divided into two main sections and the broken line is accentuated further by different height of the parapet walls creating a subtle cascading effect. The continuous line in elevation is then punctured by small, centrally located roof pavilions which are, however, significantly set back from the facades and therefore unlikely to have visual impact on the scale of the building.
Being positioned on a teardrop shaped island, surrounded by wide roads and a roundabout, and therefore not having any immediately adjacent neighbours the site has a unique character. Not only the site does not have “front and back” but to some degree, it is also isolated from its context. Furthermore the surrounding area is varied in every possible way in terms of building type, scale, height and appearance. This presents an opportunity to design a building that while responding to the area can have its own identity and set its own agenda.
With the exception of the nearby five storey College building, the surrounding area is mostly characterised by two to four storey residential buildings with pitched roofs contributing to their overall height. Having analysed the vicinity of the site and carefully considered the overall height and proportions of the building, the building has been designed in two sections in terms of the height.
The site is approximately 3500sqm, with an existing two storey pub at the south end of the site. The existing building on site is used as a public house on the ground floor with staff accommodation on upper floors.
Following the pre-application consultation, a public consultation meeting was organised for the local residents and ward councillors. The consultation was attended by some 120 residents and proposal received mixed reaction. Some residents were principally against any development in the area and therefore remained unconvinced about the design, others were very supportive of the scheme and its contemporary design including roof terraces, brick detailing and new landscaping.
While some requests such as lower height, traditional design with pitched roof or a completely different principle of development could not be accommodated, many comments and suggestions from the residents such as more intensive use of the inner courtyard and increased landscaping areas have been incorporated in the final scheme.