Our role in
Portsmouth was working as part of a large team led by Chapman Taylor. We were
responsible for the design of three blocks of this huge retail-led development,
and brought to the team our valuable experience of working with English
Heritage on complex sites. All three blocks surround a new space abutting St
Agatha’s, a Grade II* listed church. Our key idea was the reintegration of the
church into the proposed urban fabric, making it an integral part of the urban
design and a positive element in the regeneration of the city centre.
department store anchors the western end of the development. It was our first
shell-and-core building and a major new building type for us, drawing on our
experience of retail design at Bolton Market Hall. Working very closely with
the client’s team and Marks and Spencer we found a way of siting the department
store adjacent to the listed church in a way that everyone was happy with, and
secured the necessary permissions and the agreement for lease.
The project tackled the legacy of the Tricorn Centre, an
architecturally ambitious retail and residential development from the 1960s. It
had destroyed the street pattern of this part of Portsmouth and had failed
commercially, with ensuing social problems. It was eventually demolished.
The proposed £350 million redevelopment aimed to transform
the former Tricorn site and regenerate Portsmouth city centre, with shops,
cafes, restaurants, 200 apartments, a hotel and two department stores. When we
became involved it had received outline planning consent.
The team from the city planning
department was understandably determined to ensure that the proposals avoided
the mistakes of the past, and had involved CABE in reviewing them before our
involvement. As such a major development, requiring compulsory purchase, the
project was also politically sensitive.
How we worked
Our work for the redevelopment of Portsmouth Northern Quarter
combined urban planning with commercial and retail design, and required
overcoming several constraints. We were appointed by Chapman Taylor on behalf
of Centros in March 2006.
The outline planning
consent didn’t determine the form or materials of the buildings. The client
realised that getting detailed planning permission and listed building consent
would be difficult, which is why they approached us. They knew that we had the
relevant experience to liaise with both English Heritage and the church.
We established a very productive working relationship with
Centros, Chapman Taylor, and the other consultants, taking the lead on the
design of the three blocks but working as an integral part of the whole team,
which included Bovis Lend Lease advising on construction issues. We established
the design of our blocks around a new square within the retail, residential and
urban design framework of the project.
Working closely with Chapman Taylor and Centros, we took
part in detailed engagement with the city council and local stakeholders,
including public consultation events, and led the negotiations with English
Heritage and the church. We achieved listed building consent and
detailed/reserved matters planning permission, and secured the Agreement for
Lease with Marks and Spencer.
Making it happen
In designing the
individual blocks we worked closely with the landscape architects to define the
new square, and to create safe and pleasant pedestrian routes to enliven the
experience of both shoppers and residents, and link the new spaces to the rest
of the city. The
circular geometry of Church Square focused on the brick apses of the church, a
geometry which we reflected in the link buildings and the anchor store arcade.
We designed the Marks
and Spencer store to be a landmark building, somewhere that was instantly
recognisable but which didn’t overpower the church. We wanted to clad it in
something reflective to accentuate the sinuous elevations and set-backs, and
came up with the idea of large format terracotta tiles, each with a small curve
which wrap around the forms.
In contrast to the
anchor store we thought of the other two blocks, one of which included
apartments, as background buildings with simple forms and handsome brickwork
facades framing the public spaces.
The buildings were designed and
detailed to be both commercially successful and provide an appropriate new
setting for the listed church. Working with the
engineers and Bovis Lend Lease we established an integrated construction
methodology and detailing for each element of the proposals, including the
facades and alterations to the listed church. This demonstrated to Centros that
the proposals were affordable, and gave the planners and English Heritage the
confidence to support our proposals.
closely with the Marks
and Spencer technical team to make sure the store met their
challenging the default solutions to their technical brief whilst remaining
compliant and ensuring that it would achieve BREEAM excellent.