Turning a redundant bus depot into new homes

February 10, 2022

Ash Sakula were asked to explore development proposals for converting a bus garage in Newcastle-upon-Tyne into PRS housing.

Our proposals are as follows:

The existing bus depot buildings are demolished, apart from its listed Doric facade and a significant section of the depot’s roof structure extending approximately ten metres back from the Doric facade. This will be supported using recycled elements from the demolition of the remainder of the depot. An attractive glass house will be created which will become a café restaurant. The existing massive glazed timber folding doors will be modified to become fully glazed. They can be opened in summer and the broad pavement in front of them can become an outdoor dining terrace.

The remainder of the site accommodates a PRS development of six buildings ranging from four to eight storeys high, sitting over an undercroft garage.

Immediately behind the restaurant is Building 1. In deference to the listed Doric facade it is symmetrical, rising in steps to a maximum of six storeys, with two lower four storey wings coming forward to create meaningful street corners. A corner shop is located at the busy corner of the site. Building 1 is pierced by two archways enabling the access roads to pass through to the rear of the site.

At the rear, the change in level between the site ground level and the adjoining road is exploited to enable an undercroft car park under most of the site. Above this, around a courtyard podium, are five buildings, Buildings 2 to 6. The buildings are higher to the north and east, lower to the south and west, making best use of the sun, and turning their back to some extent on the inhospitable main road. They vary between five and nine storeys. Their cores extend down into the parking garage, where bin stores are located.

At the entrance to the rear courtyard is a Common House, a gathering place for the community.

In total the proposal contains 228 new homes, as well as community space, a café restaurant and a convenience store.

Vehicular and servicing access is by way of two entrances through the Doric portico. The southern entrance accesses all parts of the site, including a 185 space undercroft car park. The other leads to a visitors’ car park.

Materials are locally sourced brick, with aluminium-faced timber-framed high performance windows. Flat roofs are green or brown living roofs. Some are inhabited roofs, serving as residents’ private or communal roof terraces. Pitched roofs are zinc, with PVs on south-facing slopes.

The open areas of the site are sensitively landscaped to provide a playable public realm, with green areas, a dedicated play area, vertical greening, a common house as a gathering place for residents, and raised planters for communal horticulture. Existing trees around the edges of the site are retained. New tree planting provides shade, habitat, reduced heat island effect and greening.

The scheme will be highly sustainable, not least because its design will provide cues for eco-living to its future residents. High levels of insulation, compact planning, low-energy services and carefully considered window design will make homes cool in summer and warm in winter, and will mean lower utility bills and a cooler planet.