Designed by BPTW for developer Countryside & Hyde, Rochester Riverside (phase 1B) – a mixed-use residential development in Kent – has been named ‘Winner of Winners’ at the 2020 Housing Design Awards. Located on a previously derelict brownfield site, the scheme includes 131 new-build dwellings and is shaped by a series of generous public spaces. Framed by streets and houses, this network is designed to improve connectivity across the site, as well as physical and visual connections to the River Medway.
A 2.5-kilometre riverside walk follows the northern and eastern boundaries of the site. Intended to encourage active lifestyles, the route weaves through pockets of landscaped green space, embedding the area’s natural heritage into the development. Set within the public realm are a series of art works that celebrate the landscape, wildlife and heritage of the locations in which they are installed. Created by two artists in close collaboration with BPTW, the pieces form a key component of the public space network and are designed to aid wayfinding.
In addition to an 81-bedroom hotel, also designed by BPTW, the scheme includes a cafe and supermarket, which sit within masterplanner HTA’s urban block. The majority of homes are within walking distance of Rochester’s high-speed train station. Across the development, the streets are defined by a ‘Durobrivae’ concept, which draws upon the remnants of the Roman Wall that once surrounded the town. Over time, this has become embedded into the existing vernacular, with homes now forming part of, sitting on or layering into the wall. BPTW’s design is conceived as a contemporary nod to this historic feature – echoing the relationship through colour, materiality and strong proportions – to give the new streets their own personality within a cohesive framework.
The project is also intended to strike a balance between the town’s historic fabric and the wider Medway area. Along the riverfront, this can be seen with large, dramatic rooflines that draw inspiration from the dockyards, while domestic and urban scales are found in the roofscapes of the more intimate secondary streets. References to Rochester’s rich conservation area and the character of Chatham and the Historic Naval Dockyard are also reflected in the scheme’s materials, detailing and proportions.
Precise masonry and service detailing, including drainpipes, are complemented with a contextual material palette of colourful brickwork and timber weatherboarding. Changes in brick colour and texture denote the home entrances, while contrasting brick courses frame the windows and emphasise projecting bays. Elsewhere, dormer windows add visual interest and variety to the streetscapes. Inside, dwellings located along the river edge feature first-floor living spaces in order to maximise the views out. Each residential unit includes a private garden or balcony, as well as renewable energy sources to reduce CO2 emissions.