Nottingham Civic Society

caring for the city


Offices and Warehouses for J.A. Stephens

The site for this proposal lies at the end of Castle Meadow Road to the west of the Inland Revenue Office development. It lies to the north of Castle Meadow Road and is bounded to the east and west by car parking/delivery areas and to the north by the Leen and Nottingham Canal. The surrounding buildings to the west and south are large-scale industrial/retail park sheds finished in coated corrugated steel and aluminium. The Inland Revenue to the west is a quality piece of architecture constructed and finished in mainly natural materials.

Because the site is topographically low, there are few views from it to the South. The land rises significantly to the north on the far side of the canal to form Nottingham Park and to the northwest to the Castle bluff. The site can be seen from the Castle and from those properties that are on the very edge of the Park. Similarly the Castle can be seen from the site, but the Park edge is largely screened by foliage.

Two surveys have been carried out of the existing conditions on the site, a Ground and Contamination Investigation and a Water Vole Survey.

The Ground and Contamination Investigation concludes that the ground conditions on the site present a manageable risk with respect to environmental issues provided that there is hard ground cover on the site.The Water Vole Survey highlights the existence of water voles on the banks of the Leen. The form of the proposed development will little affect the habitat as it is designed to provide open ground adjacent the stretch of bank where the habitat is suitable for water voles and to present oblique elevations which will minimise shading of the bank.

The new building and external areas of the site will house a number of related uses. The building is part warehouse for insulation materials, part showroom, storage and maintenance workshops for a Plant Hire Operation and part administration offices in connection with these uses. It also relates closely to the operations of the client, Builders Merchant J.A.Stephens’ other premises on Castle Meadow Road. The site provides external building material display areas, car parking for the Plant Hire Operation and replacement of existing parking and a delivery and despatch yard for the insulation warehouse.

The building is sited to achieve a number of things:

1) To present a prominent entrance elevation both to people approaching down Castle Meadow Road and to people approaching from John A Stephen's existing buildings, allowing the new building to be clearly read. It also presents a strong form at the end of Castle Meadow Road adding interest to the approach past the Inland Revenue building.

2) To mediate between the grain of the buildings on the Inland Revenue site and those on the Retail park.

3) To present an oblique set of elevations to the Leen forming green spaces adjacent to the brook and reducing the possibility of overshadowing of the bank.

4) To form a backdrop to and give a sense of enclosure to the materials display area to the front of the site.

5) Keep the large vehicles delivering to the new warehouse and those buildings already on John A Stephen's existing site at the same end of Castle Meadow road, making one area of vehicle movements rather than two.

The form of the building is broken down into a number of elements and volumes so as to ‘humanise the shed’ and allow the customer/office focussed parts of the building to have an approachable scale. This also gives a much more articulate set of forms when viewed from the Castle and a scale appropriate to its location alongside the Inland Revenue building. The building embraces and encloses the external entrance and materials display areas and gives small-scale elevations and green spaces to the north onto the Leen and Nottingham Canal.

The materials used are carefully related to the way in which the form is presented. The more expensive copper cladding is used on the public side of the development and to express a series of walls threading through the higher barrel vaulted warehouse structures. These barrel vaults have their columns expressed to the public side and are clad in PVF2 coated corrugated and flat steel panels. The flat roofs are finished in dark grey single ply membrane. The glazed elements are anodised or painted aluminium curtain walling. External paving is proposed to be carried out in a good quality granite grey paving slab with matching edgings in the public areas. The whole site boundary will be security fenced in a manner that matches that of the adjacent Inland Revenue Car park.

The proposed development is carefully crafted to the site both in terms of the distribution of uses and the form of the building. Significant views over the site are taken into account, as are the views when approaching it. The buildings form a place, rather than sit in the middle of a sea of tarmac and the edge of the building facing the River Leen is broken down to an appropriate scale that does not overshadow the vole habitat. Materials are used in a manner that reinforces the form and enables an easy reading of the composition and approach.

Marsh & Grochowski

September 2005