The clear winner of the 2004 Architectural Award is the extensive housing development of Highgate at Framwellgate Peth. The sloping area below the railway station had been allocated for infill by the planning authorities since clearance in the 1960s. (The Trust fully supported suitable reinstatement.) Now, after more than thirty years, and after earlier, half-progressed schemes for a hotel and for housing, the challenging and highly visible site has been brought to life with a distinctive, and distinguished residential quarter. The scheme eschews any attempt at modern interpretation or experiment. Instead, its motif is the unashamed replication of the Durham Georgian townhouse.
Success stems from its own authenticity, allied to sensitivity to site and context. It has a convincingly solid appearance, with no hint of facadism. The same conviction is evident from its inner street, as from properties lining the perimeter. Its Georgian harmony pervades in a composition where there is subtle variation in brick, render, roof height together with detailing of ridgeline and chimney, fenestration and portal. Appropriate floorscaping and street furniture complete the unity.
Houses lining Castle Chare, together with the new footbridge, link the area, functionally and visually, to St Godric’s and the City centre. From the east Highgate provides the rising foreground to the station and viaduct; from Station Approach the rooftops of Highgate add foreground interest to the panorama of castle and cathedral.
The success of Highgate stems jointly from the locally based firm of RPS plc, in which the project architect was Sheila Hyland, and Taylor Woodrow Developments Ltd, which absorbed Bryant Homes at an early phase of construction, in which Neil Duffield remained as architectural manager.
The picture below shows Sheila Hyland and Andrew Dolby, both of RPS, with their commendation certificates.
See Bulletin 57, February 2005, for details of this building and other candidates for the award.