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Whitehaven, United Kingdom

Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

The main purpose of our design approach for this competition has been to create a link between the historical urban fabric and the harbour frontage. The characteristic feature of the building fabric of Whitehaven is its orthogonal grid pattern, composed of full face and continuous building frontages, but varied in heights and facades design. The residential lots are typically elongated, with only the short side facing the road. The volumes are arranged on the outer boundary of the lot, leaving free spaces in the central portions for backyards and gardens. Another characteristic feature is the common use of pitched roofs, that contributes to create a diverse and sinuous skyline with their different heights.

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Within these characteristics there are some exceptions, consisting of buildings having historical specific features that may vary in type and function, i.e. Saint Nicholas church, Whitehaven Castle and the North Pier lighthouse. The visual axis, linking the castle with the church towards the waterfront, consists in the south boundary of the development site and links it to the historic urban fabric of the town centre. By identifying a focal point in the north west side of the project area, we mapped out another visual axis that connects North Pier lighthouse with the new settlement. These two axes define the project area and express the links with the city and its historic fabric on one side, with the waterfront and the ocean view on the other side.

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Let’s analyze the settlement and the typological aspects of the project. First, not to alter the features and usability of the site, we aimed to maintain the crossings between Strand St. and the Millennium promenade, as shown in historical maps, respecting the original subdivision of the lot. Ground floor crossings are reflected on the volumes design too, in order to preserve expansive views out to the Irish Sea and to form a highly visible backdrop to the recently regenerated quays complex when viewed from the sea approach, as requested by the competition brief.

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Regarding the design process for the new settlement, we started using the local grid pattern to proceed in the subdivision of the lot, according to the context. The project area was then divided into long narrow strips with a size comparable to the ones pointed out in the historic fabric. Volumes have been placed toward the streets, leaving free spaces at the central axis of the lot. These spaces have a public and semi-private use, since there are both residential and tertiary functions on the development site. This open spaces system ends up in a small square on the north side of the lot, directly related to the function of Paul Jones Tavern, which then becomes a gateway to this new axis. The pedestrian area of the waterfront is maintained and upgraded in its quality by increasing the number of existing trees in the green belt along the promenade. This green area acts as a filter for the new buildings, improving the comfort of new residents and rising the quality of the entire waterfront.

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Regarding the functional layout, it was decided to distribute the whole residential volume on the eastern front in direct contact with the Millennium Promenade, while the space devoted to offices is on the ground floor of the complex and massing on Strand St. side. This option enables the settlement both to have all apartments with a direct view on the sea front as required by the competition brief and ensuring easy access to all the tertiary functions. In order to supply to the requirements illustrated in comments on stage 1 the office layout has been redesigned: regular plans layout, with service spaces placed out of the building shape, make these spaces very flexible.

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Consistent with the analysis conducted, it has been decided to demolish the Bathhouse building and to place a tower at the northeast corner of the development site. This operation is necessary in order to create a landmark of the entire complex, being able to dialogue simultaneously with the historic city and the harbour frontage. Moreover it’s necessary in order to satisfy the project development requests. The importance of cultural heritage is recognised by the conservation of the central section of the front façade of Bath House, dismantled and rebuilt at the entrance of the new central axis of public spaces.

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

From the perspective of formal intervention, our design approach has been characterized by the recovery of traditional local buildings forms, in order to maintain continuity with the morphological context. This choice has been reflected in the use of individual separate volumes, juxtaposed to each other, with variations in height and depth and with the use of pitched roofs. This approach applies both to residential buildings as well as offices, since they are both strictly connected to the town centre. The functional differentiation between the residence and offices has been expressed by using different materials and different construction technologies.

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

The residential building will be built with traditional fittings and traditional construction system, in line with the existing context, with a predominant use of coloured plaster in shades selected within the colour range of the colourfully painted attractive Georgian buildings and through the use of frames with geometrical scan. All apartments have a seafront terrace, designed as a ‘loggia’, in agreement with the surrounding architecture that do not include projecting features.

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

The office buildings are placed on Strand Street, facing the town centre. In order to create a relationship with the existent buildings the first floors of the new blocks are designed with solid stone facades. The top of the buildings and the roofs are made of glass, in order to create a light façade on top. These buildings have been imagined as glass boxes set into stone bases. Offices volumes have been conceived as highly technology wrappers, being able to achieve the latest standards and BREEAM Excellent, to obtain the highest possible level of comfort for the end users.

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

The goal of our design is to repair the Whitehaven urban fabric, recovering and rearranging all the existing features and peculiarity of the original site in a modern architecture. The scheme responds both to the context of the harbour-side setting and to the one of the Town Centre, acting as a real link between these two entities.

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Renato Sarno, Giacomo Penco — Whitehaven Harbour Central Site Competition

Single-family-houses