The winner of the Trust’s architectural award for 2015 is ‘The Bowers’, a small development of townhouses and mews cottages at the end of Waddington Street. Occupying the tapering rectangular site of the former Arriva bus depot, the scheme is an exemplary piece of place-making. The two tall building at the entrance act as a gateway to the scheme; inside an open square is flanked by three-story terraces on one side facing two-storey mews on the other; further in a short terrace with garages opposite continue towards Flass Vale.
The location is an appropriate context for a ‘safe’ design of 19th century Durham vernacular but it is building treatment, degree of enclosure and floorscape which sum to a pleasing unified composition and sense of place. The Ibstock brick and slate roof structures are given interest by the pattern of bays, some blocked-up windows and chimney stacks. Surfaces other than brick have a restrained colour range, while the absence of PVC, interestingly, is by choice, not planning condition.
The scheme, a welcome halt to rampant student advance in the area, and with a planning condition preventing conversion to multiple occupation, is the creation of Gentoo Homes of Sunderland, the architect being Stuart Hutchinson. The plaque will be handed over at the Open meeting.
See Bulletin 80, Spring 2016, for details of this building and other candidates for the award.