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DRP Architects Launches Phase One of George Williams House Project in Portslade


November 16, 2007, Press Dispensary. DRP Architects ( http://www.drparchitects.co.uk ), a Brighton-based firm known for its eco friendly and sustainable designs, has just completed the first phase of the £5.1m rebuild of George Williams House - a large hostel facility in Portlslade.

Commissioned by a provider of services to a vulnerable user group, the three-phase project – which will create tailored accommodation and a much-needed life skills facility - began in 2004 and will end in 2009. The completion of the £1.1m contract to construct phase one sees the first of three new blocks delivered to the client.

The new George Williams House has been designed around a central landscaped area on a site surrounded on all sides by existing building stock. It replaces an outmoded building that was no longer fit for its purpose. The design picks up on its surroundings in an intelligent and contemporary way.

DRP was initially commissioned to refurbish the existing hostel building. However, it soon became clear that a new build would be more feasible in terms of cost and facilities. The resulting design separates the hostel into two accommodation blocks and a third ‘life skills’ block which has educational and self-help facilities – including a teaching kitchen, art space, IT suites and offices. The third block will feature large areas of glazed façade and a sedum roof. The blocks are arranged around a green space which has bins and bikes stores, parking and landscaping.

Matthew Richardson, DRP director responsible for the project, says: “The three blocks, while physically separate, are linked visually and notionally to read as ‘individual houses’ instead of an ‘institutional home’. The form of the completed block is broken up into smaller components, and each of the new blocks will be sympathetic to the neighbourhood as a whole."

It was for this reason, as well as environmental credentials, that untreated sweet chestnut boarding was selected as one of the main materials in the project. The fast-growing timber is harvested locally in Sussex. DRP has also opted for rendered block work, powder coated aluminium windows and single ply roofing membrane.

Matthew Richardson says: “The chosen materials reference the ‘urban grain’ of the building’s location in a contemporary way. Materials are all low maintenance, the building is designed to be energy efficient, and the elevational treatment and articulation reflect the rhythm of nearby developments in Portslade.”

The building also has sweet chestnut louvres to provide solar shading to the stair towers, timber clad hanging bays that step out from the elevation, and sloping mono-pitch roofs. Within each of the ‘houses’, residents will have their own room with ensuite facilities and each ‘house’ contains a communal kitchen and living room. The idea is that individuals can take ownership of their own space, and feel independent rather than part of an institution.

And it isn’t just human residents that DRP has to consider. A badger sett exists on the site, and work near it can only be undertaken at certain times of the year, under license, to avoid disturbing the animals.

Matthew Richardson adds: “The new buildings are about people – clients, staff and visitors. A balance of sensitivity, integration and vibrancy is reflected in the materials, textures and colours as well as the use of the inner and outer spaces and their transformation during day and night.”

- ends -

Notes for editors
Design commenced: 2004
Planning permission achieved: 21 March, 2006
Project commenced: September 2006
Completion date of phase 1 :September 2007 (anticipated completion of phase 2 – June 2009)
Contract sum: £5.1 million (all phases)

Architect: DRP Architects
Structural engineer: BEP Consulting Engineers
Electrical Services engineer: Electrical Services & Projects Ltd
Mechanical services engineer: Paine Manwaring Ltd
Planning consultant: DMH Stallard
Eco homes consultant: Callao Housing Consultancy
Ecologist: Aspect Ecology
Main contractor: W.Stirland Ltd
Employers agent: RLF

Materials: single ply roof; locally sourced untreated sweet chestnut timber rainscreen and louvres, through colour render; locally sourced face brickwork; powder coated aluminium windows, fascias and soffits; galvanised steel rainwater pipes and gutters.

About DRP Architects
DRP Architects is an award-wining architectural practice, formed in 1983, that became a limited company in July 2006. Based at Lewes Road, Brighton, the company has six directors who work together to produce high-quality, sustainable architecture. DRP has a strong local and community presence, having achieved Community Mark and Investors in People awards in recent years. DRP was one of the first architectural practices in the South East to achieve ISO 9001 accreditation. In March 2007, it launched DRP Consulting to deal with construction design and management (CDM) and party wall matters. Recent awards include: Green Apple Award 2007; Sussex Heritage Trust Awards 1998, 2004, 2005 and 2006; Worthing Borough Council Awards 2003 and 2005.

For further information, please contact:
Olli Blair, director
DRP Architects
Tel: 01273 888080
Site: www.drparchitects.co.uk

Media contacts

Olli Blair, director
Tel: 01273 888080
Site: www.drparchitects.co.uk

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