When Adnams brewery relocated its distribution depot out of the centre of Southwold, it freed up a significant site in the town for redevelopment. Ash Sakula won the invited competition and was appointed architect for a two-phase project to create a shop and cafe for the brewery, followed by a development of mixed-tenure housing.
Our design opened up the site and re-connected it with the rest of the town, creating a convivial, sustainable mixed-use development. The completed scheme is cited by Historic England as an exemplar for the constructive conservation of a small coastal town, boosting commercial and leisure activity both within the scheme and beyond.
We immersed ourselves in the speciﬁc close-grained texture of this unspoilt seaside town - alleys and ginnels, little gardens packed with plants, unexpected views, interesting corners and peculiar juxtapositions.
Compared with the old store, the new facility has doubled the client’s turnover and tripled its profit but its commercial impact goes far beyond that.
We gave this once-impermeable industrial site back to the town by striking it through with small-scale through-routes and little green spaces.
The outcome is a profitable retail destination which has boosted commercial activity along the whole street; two shops, a café, a lively little square, and 34 new homes that confidently combine contemporary design with typologies, details and materials that draw on local tradition.
The project is an exemplar of sustainable, long-term regeneration of a small coastal town.
This is now a lively, accessible part of town. It is a little piece of public life, a square where people come to meet up for a coffee and end up staying longer than they intended to, hanging out, meeting friends, tasting wine and enjoying the farmers market.
One new resident, Val Collins, said, 'We love it here,' and shop owner Paul Edwards said, 'There's such a community spirit. It's just a really nice place to be.'
The new building that houses the shop and café combines the sociability of a village hall with the conviviality of a market place - although it does so with a gleaming industrial aesthetic. Shop and café functions flow into each other and connect strongly with the outdoor space, which makes the place feel airy, informal and welcoming. In its flexibility, the space offers visitors a choice of niches and vantage points.
Old copper-lined beer vats have been re-purposed as cosy places to sit, offering flexible space with a choice of niches and vantage points.
Outdoors, discarded timber groynes from the town’s sea defences form patterns in the washed concrete surface of the square and form benches for sitting and playing on.
Architect: Ash Sakula
Client: Adnams Brewery
Planning Authority: Waveney District Council
Structural Engineer: Price & Myers
M+E Engineer: Michael Popper Associates
Cost Consultant: AppleyardsDWB
2004 First Prize Southwold Competition
Green roof cools and contributes to biodiversity
Walls and pitched roof insulated with sheeps wool
All glazing is high-performance double-glazed
Natural ventilation with opening windows
Large central roof-light maximises daylight
Meets or exceeds requirements of DDA and Building Regulations Part M