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  • O'Connell East Architects

Project Focus: 41 Castle Street, Leicester

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

Client: Host.

Contractor: NMCM

Completed: August 2020

Host's Castle Street PBSA development is located in an established student area a short walk away from DeMontford University Campus and provides 129 bed-spaces in a range of cluster flats and studios. The site sits adjacent to the Castle Conservation Area with Grade I and II* listed buildings in close proximity, most notably the Grade I listed Church of St Mary de Castro.

The brief was to develop a contextual design response that would complement the heritage assets within the conservation area whilst delivering a new building with a contemporary aesthetic.

Height was a key factor and OEA developed a series of massing studies to ensure the size and scale of the proposed building related to the heights of surrounding buildings. This involved setting the building footprint back from the highway by over 7m to create long-distance views into the Conservation area and reinforce the church as a focal point.

The building elevations have been arranged using carefully composed bay window modules which are reflective of the architectural language adopted by the 18th and 19th Century buildings in the Castle Conservation Area. This modulation breaks the elevations down to a more domestic scale and provides a strong vertical emphasis and a sense of rhythm to the facades. This rhythm is amplified by deep reveals and set-back panels vertically linking window openings. Recessed bed joints have been applied to the set-back panels to provide visual interest.

The building is entirely clad in brick to provide a coherence to the project and embed it amongst the surrounding historic buildings and the nearby Castle Conservation Area which features an array of brick buildings dating back to the 18th Century. As such, the brick selection was critical to the success of the project and OEA worked with Wienerberger’s specification team early in the project to select a brick that would engage with the character of the area and be suitable for the variety of details proposed. Wienerberger’s ‘Ashley Red Multi’ brick was chosen and paired with a dark, chestnut-brown mortar to complement the red, brown, and burnt orange tones found in the bricks.

Flemish bond has been used within the three-storey element at the southern end of the development, closest to the conservation area. The Flemish bond echoes the brickwork found in the nearby historic brick buildings and allowed a smoother radius to be achieved where the building form curves to reflect the sweep of Castle Street around to the East. Flemish bond brickwork also allowed for headers to be omitted creating a series of paired perforated brick panels creating a woven texture in the brickwork.

The design retains historic references and takes cues from adjacent listed buildings but remains contemporary through the choice of brick, application, and detailing.

The design retains historic references and takes cues from adjacent listed buildings but remains contemporary through the choice of brick, application, and detailing.

High levels of insulation to the building envelope, CHP, ventilation with heat recovery and green roofs all contribute to reducing the carbon footprint and enhancing the biodiversity of the development. Courtyard cycle stores are provided to encourage sustainable modes of transport.

Photo Credits - Stephen Hall Photography on behalf of Weinerberger

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