Castle Court makes the most of public land through a design that delivers low cost family homes in an area with challenging viability through thoughtful, economic solutions. It is a development of 68 new homes on a currently derelict former Royal Navy site in Portland, Dorset. The site sits adjacent to HTA and ZeroC’s earlier award winning Officer’s Field development and is the next phase in the regeneration masterplan. The project is a combination of both new build houses and the conversion, renovation and extension of the Edwardian, Royal Navy Canteen Building and disused control tower that currently occupies the northern portion of the site into 27 flats.
The development is arranged around a new central, north – south internal link with a landscaped central square that acts as a focal point to the scheme. Topographically, the site is extremely challenging with Castle Road on the eastern boundary 5m above Mulberry Avenue on the west. A number of stepped pedestrian and vehicular connections are created that provide links through the site between these two boundaries integrate the site with its wider context. A new external staircase creates a direct link from Castle Road into the new communal space at the heart of the development.
The currently disused Canteen Building is planned to be restored and extended with the formal frontage facing Liberty square bought back to its former grandeur whilst the north elevation will offer frontage and views over Portland Castle and out to sea, while to the south they front the the new landscaped community space via duplex units. Coach houses enable the resolution of this northern part of the site while ensuring that the parking doesn’t dominate.
The housetypes have been designed to respond to the challenging geography with large amounts of fenestration on all sides creating active frontage and overlooking to all aspects of the development whilst 1st floor living spaces and 1st floor gardens mean that the level changes are treated as an asset, designed to be integrated seamlessly into the development. These upper floor living spaces also provide houses with the best views towards the surrounding sea while providing light filled interiors in principle living areas.
Architecturally, the houses have been designed to respond to the very different contexts that surround the site; the contemporary vernacular architecture of Officers Field and the new Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy to south of the site; the historic architecture of the Former Canteen Building and Portland Castle to the north. A material palette has been chosen that respects the uniqueness of the site, its setting and varied context and Portland itself while being robust enough to withstand the extreme weather conditions of Portland. At the north, adjacent to the Castle and Canteen building, Portland stone and red brick are predominantly employed to sit comfortably with their surroundings. Feature gables are accented with diaper pattern brickwork whilst on the rest of the site a more restrained, understated palette of sandy brick colours is employed. Large, uninterrupted picture windows are complemented by smaller, separate opening vents to provide all houses with extensive views out to the unique context and will ensure that all houses feel generous and light filled inside. The windows are framed by cast stone surrounds that emphasise the importance of the views and offer relief and articulation in the otherwise simple gabled forms. These details are complimented by a range of brickwork including soldier courses and expressive brickwork eaves coursing all of which is designed to softens and humanise the architecture.