Typifying the lacklustre quality of the architecture of the scheme is its elevation to Friarsgate, which is the main traffic route through the city centre, and is the only place from where the development can be seen as a whole.
This elevation, which is twice the length of a football pitch, will define how accomplished the whole scheme is, and it needs and deserves an especially attractive civic architectural approach.
Unhappily that approach has not been pursued, and what characterises the elevations to the new buildings, which are all much larger and taller than the existing buildings, is that they all have inactive ‘dead’ frontages.
The supermarket in Block A is entered via Middle Brook Street so that its frontage onto Friarsgate is really a flank wall, where, typically, the windows will be covered in adverts and the cold section fridges butted up behind.
Although there is a new bus station in Block B, which is set back from Friarsgate, the remainder of the ground level frontage, ie most of it, consists of; access routes to loading bays, entrances to service functions such as bin stores, doors to fire escapes, the gable ends of the residential blocks at the east of the site, and blank walls.
There is not one building or any principal entrance fronting onto Friarsgate, and the absence of any active frontage, is highlighted by a facade treatment that is over-scaled, over-simplified, flat and wholly uninspired.
Instead of proudly showing off the scheme’s front, the Friarsgate elevation timidly shows us its back and as an example of a newly created townscape it is woeful.
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