The form of the scheme is characterised by a layering strategy with a distinct top, middle and bottom. The middle element provides a prominent frame overlooking Watts Park while the bottom element provides an active frontage at street level.
The project is located within the central business district of Southampton overlooking Watts Park close to the civic centre. We secured planning consent for a new 8 storey office building on Cumberland Place. The design of the scheme responded to its city park edge context and prominent city location by using a layering strategy to balance tall building with active frontage along Cumberland Place.The design had to deal with a number of demanding planning issues relating to townscape and massing related to the surrounding buildings and local authority policy driving future development in this part of the city.
The design included a full height atrium allowing natural light and ventilation to flood into all levels of the building which mitigated the narrow deep form of the site and surrounding buildings. The concept underpinning the scheme was to use the north and south elevation to allow as much natural light into the office accommodation as possible. A basement level includes stacking lifts to increase the car parking capacity. The proposed street elevations reflect the strong classical rhythm of the civic centre opposite in a restrained, elegant yet contemporary manner.
The City Council has high aspirations for the quality of development and the city centre environment which are fast becoming a reality. The city centre is the crucible of economic, social, civic and cultural life and very much the ‘shop window’ for the city and wider region. It is crucial for Southampton’s sense of identity and community and it is at the heart of the city’s strategies for growth and intensification. Historically, the built frontage to the Parks comprised a number of traditional narrow and regular plot widths at various set back distances e.g. the two groups of listed buildings on Cumberland Place and Brunswick Place. This resulted in a strong verticality to the blocks which helped to maintain order (division of the elevation), visual interest and active frontages, particularly when viewed obliquely along their length. These factors have driven our design concept for Central 21 and our approach was focused in creating a commercially sensible proposition for the Southampton market.