BELL ROAD, SITTINGBOURNE
|Client:||Aria Group Ltd|
|Construction:||Masonry & Steel Frame|
|Team||Keith Owen, Jason Chandler|
The development is located centrally within Sittingbourne, at the eastern end of the high street, almost opposite the local authority offices. The site used to house a small shopping centre, a supermarket and a nightclub, but with these buildings partly demolished it has been derelict for some 15 years.
Although Swale Borough Council have approved various proposals over the last few years, none has been realised, mainly due to lack of financial viability and the state of the economy. Our clients have purchased the site with a view to building 166 town-centre apartments, creating a new block fronting Bell Road, a block on the western edge of the site and a smaller block extending to the south of the high street, which will incorporate a new health centre and pharmacy.
The design for the Bell Road apartment block (the main one visible from outside the site) positions the building well back from the pavement edge, enhancing the street scene and creating a more active frontage that will allow gardens and planting to be incorporated into the footpath zone. Our design breaks down the bulk of the façade into a series of smaller panels, which reflect a more human scale. The apartments are staggered, with alternating balconies and projections to provide interest and a create a three-dimensional effect, rather than a monolithic slab. Our aim is to provide a building with the proportions and aesthetic qualities expected in living accommodation, rather than those associated with office buildings. The design allows individual apartments, built on a human-scale, to be identifiable within the whole scheme, rather than attempting to dominate the street scene with an imposing vertical frontage.
We believe this approach is critical when designing large-scale apartment blocks for these types of settings, where buildings of substantially lower mass and density predominate. We have undertaken a public consultation process as well as consulting Design Southeast, Swale Borough Council’s preferred design review panel. The positive responses we have received have provided additional momentum for the project and enhanced the focus on the central courtyard area, which will provide a great community space at the heart of the scheme.