Standing next to a famous Victorian theatre in Colchester where Dickens regularly gave readings, the Old Police Station is a handsome neo-renaissance building on land once enclosed by a Roman wall, which still attempts to surround the town. This gracious building wraps around a sunny courtyard and makes an ideal setting for a new creative cluster for the town. The project is the first completed component of Ash Sakula’s competition-winning masterplan for the St Botolph’s Cultural Quarter.
2017 RICS Award
A close-up detail of the facade at the entrance to one of the upper apartments. Profiled translucent fibreglass back by silver foil, with strands of electrical cable in the interstices. Chain link fencing surrounds each upper flat's terrace.
Being briefed to produce two-bedroom apartments, each measuring just 67m², precipitated a re-appraisal of the spatial priorities of the traditional small flat, which resulted in an unconventional but extremely workable configuration.
The dwellings are identically arranged around an enlarged hallway where the space is both light and complex - anything but a corridor. It is large enough to hold a desk or daybed, a place to sort laundry or an area for children to play.
Bedrooms are kept as small as possible. Clothes, for example, are stored elsewhere. While the kitchen is the main social space of the flat, the living room is a cosy (with)-drawing room that can also be a home office or guest room.
Bathrooms and WCs are separate. Each is spacious, has a large basin and an opening window.
The plan above was made at competition stage.
The corrugated cladding set against silver foil creates lavender and turquoise reflections. In the corrugation's interstices are suspended twisted strands of black and white electrical cabling, adding to the kinetic parallax illusion created as one passes the buildings - an effect developed by Ash Sakula in collaboration with the artist Vinita Khanna.
A few weeks after the residents moved in we received this painting from the Brewer family. It said, "Thank you for our incredible home." In an accompanying letter the Brewers wrote, "... we have never seen anything better designed for us as a family. Thank you for all your thoughtful hard work."
Animators Wrench & Franks made a short video of the project. Here is a still from the closing sequence.
Client: Colchester Borough Council and Space Studios
GIA: 1,680 m2