Brighton’s greenest office building to spark major regeneration
Plans to create the greenest office building in Brighton and spark major regeneration in the city has been given the go-ahead by council chiefs.
Internationally acclaimed architectural firm Conran + Partners has created a vision for the Astoria Cinema site in Gloucester Place that includes an exciting new arts and media quarter for the city.
And the striking new building for site owner H30 Media is set to play a pivotal role in the ongoing regeneration of the North Laine and London Road area. The development was granted planning permission by councillors today [September 21].
Conran + Partners has an impressive reputation for its innovative and stylish designs and has created significant landmark buildings in cities across the globe.
Sir Terence Conran’s architecture and design practice, which opened its Brighton office in 2008 in Queens Road, is also the major architecture practice in Brighton & Hove with a reputation for bringing back to life and usefulness prominent city landmarks.
Conran was responsible for the successful conversion in 2002 of the former Evening Argus newspaper building in North Road; was pivotal in the restoration of the modernist Embassy Court apartment building on Brighton seafront and is at the forefront of the campaign to restore Saltdean Lido.
Conran is also a major designer of social housing in the South of England with innovative, environmentally responsible schemes such as the Atalanta Apartments in Bevendean and the St James Street Mews complex which gave Brighton its first green roofs.
The Astoria development will also be the most eco-friendly office building in Britain’s greenest city.
Conran has a reputation for designing the most environmentally responsible buildings going back to its landmark headquarters for Longman publishers in Harlow, Essex, which at the time of construction in was the UK’s greenest offices.
The design team, led by director Lee Davies, plans to transform the Astoria site into a stylish six-storey mixed-use building with a cafe, shared amenity space, offices and special enterprise units aimed at attracting media and creative businesses to Brighton.
For the Astoria site, Conran has worked with leading sustainability consultant Atelier Ten to develop a comprehensive, sustainable development plan.
It includes locally sourced materials, natural ventilation, solar shading to prevent overheating and earth ducts to provide cooled air in the summer and preheated air in the winter.
The plans also include rainwater harvesting to provide grey water for use within the new building.
Lee Davies, director at Conran + Partners, said: “We are very excited to have designed this extremely important new building for Brighton, which will bring great benefits to the city.
“It will provide employment and a modern space, aimed at the arts and creative businesses, while at the same time demonstrating world-class sustainability credentials.
“The development will be a great lift to the North Laine area and we hope it will be part of the regeneration that will stretch from the Astoria site all along London Road.
“We believe the development will become a symbol of optimism for the future of the city and create a new cultural and media quarter that will attract innovative, forward-thinking companies and individuals.”
The Astoria was opened as a cinema in 1933 following a construction period of just five months. It stopped showing films in 1977 and subsequently was used as a bingo hall until 1996.
The building has since stood vacant and deteriorating despite the endeavours of a variety of groups and individuals to revitalise the site, who have welcomed Conran + Partners’ plans.
Tony Mernagh, executive director of the Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership, said: ‘‘In terms of the needs of the local economy, Conran’s intention to supply employment space located on a sustainable transport corridor close to Brighton station and on the edge of the North Laine is spot-on.’’
Don Elwick, managing director of Brighton Media Centre, said: “The site is about as perfectly placed as anyone could wish – near the City Centre, the North Laine and the Cultural Quarter, just where Brighton’s burgeoning entrepreneurial people want to locate.’’