For over 100 years this warehouse has been established in the community and had its foundations in commerce and fashion, with listing as a historic building for its architectural reference of this time. Our team have been dedicated in transforming the urban topography and reinvigorating back to former condition and adapting to loft style apartments. The uniqueness is through reinstating many of the original features and breathing new life into the building after a decade being vacant. The main benefit of warehouse conversions is the large amount of lateral space they provide, making them ideal for communal family living and creatives in search of live/work space, now a feature of modern life. Many of the lofts have large, light-feeding windows, period industrial charm and original features – what’s not to enjoy about loft living!
The existing buildings were built between 1917 and 1920 and form a series of red brick industrial structures with stone details, slate roofs and large steel framed windows. The Buildings were B2 Listed in 2014.
The layout of the site places the three major structures along the longer east and west sides of the site with a number of temporary structures to the narrow central space between them. A single storey roofed space occupies the centre of the east side of the site between the two larger blocks.
The buildings have been unoccupied for the past decade but kept secure by the former occupier, meaning deterioration has been minimalized. Various options have been assessed but deemed uneconomical and low demand, therefore the preferred option emerged as a contemporary living solution.
The site on Rydalmere Street was one of three occupied by Douglas and Grahame in the area, the leading clothing manufacturer and brand retailer. It used to be the home of their operations but has been unused since the company moved to Carrickfergus in 2009. The principal site and subject of this proposal is, that between Rydalmere Street and Empire Street, highlighted on the adjacent map. The land is occupied by a series of red brick structures which we see as exciting possibilities for conversion to residential use, creating an idea of loft living. This has become popular in New York and then London, Manchester and< Dublin through the 1990s. The location offers an exceptional opportunity adjacent to both Belfast’s major hospitals, Queens University campuses and on a main artery off the M1 motorway allowing easy access to Belfast City Centre. We identify this investment as a further injection of charismatic regeneration in the area and the loft style living will appeal to both young and old alike in a superbly accessible location.
Our strategy has been to use only the three principal buildings, converting them to residential units so as to respond sympathetically to their historic form and structure whilst maximising the possibilities of the units within. We propose to demolish all other subsidiary structures and use the spaces between the buildings as external gardens and courts which allow circulation to and connection between the loft apartments. The court in the centre of the east side will sit behind a screen wall created from the original brick wall to the street and becomes a garden populated by stairs leading to the upper level apartments. We are not proposing any new or additional buildings within these spaces.
In the south-west corner of the site, currently a larger open yard, we propose to add a new block of four apartments along the Rydalmere Street façade to fill this gap. We are maintaining open space, car parking, cycle storage and waste storage within the site. The upper loft apartments are two storey maisonettes and each has a south facing balcony or garden and perspectives away from the adjacent housing.
The main west block has a large flat roof behind a solid brick parapet with a scalloped top edge detail. The two end staircases of this block rise to and serve this roof level. We therefore propose to add a top floor of ‘penthouse’ lofts with roof terraces. These have panoramic views across the city.
The smallest north-east block is adopted into two level studio lofts utilising the tall existing spaces at both ground and first floor level. These would be accessed from a new balcony against the central courtyard street.
The south block – which has a large volume at its upper level behind its brick arched windows offers the possibility of three levels of loft living. The topmost one in the roof volume with an upper gallery between the roof trusses. A new central stair is created within the building.
This overall approach achieves a total of 57 units varying from 1-3 bedrooms.
DESIGN DEVELOPMENT AND OUR PLANNING APPLICATION
Our development team has been led by Cubic3, who are one of Ireland’s leading developers of many high profile investments and landmark buildings. They selected a team of recognised experts in projects such as this, including Richard Murphy Architects from Edinburgh and Taylor Boyd Engineers from Belfast.
We have spent since 2018 developing concepts and worked through a Pre Application Consultation (PAD) process with the Planning Department and Statutory Bodies, taking into consideration their observations and recommendations. These will form the Planning Application in September 2020. Further feedback from this consultation process will assist in the design finalisation process and one of the reports as part of the application. We look forward to your comments.
GROUND FLOOR PLANS
Our proposal utilizes the large floor to ceiling height of the ground floor spaces to create mezzanine apartments over two levels in the west and north-east buildings. The loftapartments use the logic of the existing concrete frame giving one bay of that frame to each loft. We might explore the idea of these new party walls being built in exposed brick as part of that post-industrial loft living aesthetic. The two level design requires a small lowering of the existing ground floor level subject to survey of the existing fabric to give a suitable height for two levels. The original large window openings on the west facade would be re-established to light the double height living spaces against that facade.
We propose adapting the screen and facade to the east, courtyard side, of the main block and inserting a new facade assembly of steel and glass block to create a new front door as well as a private rear bedroom. The space between the buildings becomes a new shared garden courtyard – populated by the new front doors and bridges/stairs to the upper lofts above.
The south building is divided into three simple apartments of two bedrooms on one level accessed directly from the external courts via the stair core. The northeast building is split into 5 studio units each with an upper gallery sleeping space within the double height volume.
Externally we have facilitated open space, walkways with all having lift access to their front doors. The site has adequate waste and cycle areas for the residents. Car parking on the site is in line with our travel plan and space available, with priority to those who require closer access to the homes. The planning application will include a travel plan, which incorporates our survey of the immediate vicinity and
FIRST FLOOR PLANS
The First Floor divides in a similar way to the ground although in the largest block the storey height is lower and therefore only a single level lofts is possible. This is again divided across the block giving a width of one structural bay per apartment. The north-east block creates a second level of studio apartments arranged like those on the ground floor with an upper gallery. Within the west (courtyard side) of this block we have proposed a new access balcony which connects to the existing stairs and allows bridges to connect across to the upper level lofts in the west block.
The south-east block has a further floor of large two bedroom loft apartments accessed from the south-east courtyard via the new central stair. The new south-west block has two 2 storey maisonettes with an upper living room above a entrance floor containing two bedrooms.
The existing flat roof of the west block is reached by the stairs at both ends and therefore has the potential for a further floor of new apartments to be built behind the scalloped brick parapet and accessed via an open access walkway on the east side. These new loft apartments benefit from west facing balconies to the living spaces. This additional floor is set back from the facade and has little impact on the apparent mass of the building and is above the current industrial uses on that street so is unlikely to cause concern to adjacent residents.
These lofts would benefit from extensive view across the City as well as the westerly aspect towards the evening sun. The new south block has the potential for a secret roof top terrace behind its top floor parapet, increasing the external amenity space for residents.
Finally, we have created a further pair of galleried lofts in the roof space of the south block, with new window slots set into the existing brickwork of the east and west sides and within the gable as well as the central roof lantern these would be unusual and unique lofts amongst the roof trusses of the original building.
In making assumption for the planning application we have carried out the following specialist reports and surveys. This was also informed by a Pre Application Dialogue held with Belfast City Council and various Stakeholders in May 2019 by Cubic and Richard Murphy Architects.
RESIDENTIAL TRAVEL PLAN.
This has been completed by Taylor & Boyd Engineers to support the Planning Application.
PARKING SCHEDULE, TRANSPORT ASSESSMENT FORM.
A parking survey in the area has been carried out and feedback provided to inform the Planning Application. A Transport Assessment Form has been completed will form part of the Planning Application.
PRELIMINARY FIRE ENGINEERING ADVICE.
A report on the proposals has been completed by Michael Slattery Associates and informed our design proposal being put forward for Planning.
Our team have carried out a public records search and obtained drawings for Belfast City Council Building Control. This also involved Historic Building Control records, Northern Ireland Water, and Rivers Agency records.
DRAINAGE & FLOOD RISK ASSESSMENT.
An initial report has been completed and submitted by McCloy Consulting. Some further survey data and analysis are being collected for the Planning Application in September 2020.
AIR QUALITY ASSESSMENT.
This has been completed by Irwin Carr Consulting and a final report prepared for the Planning Submission.
CONTAMINATED LAND INVESTIGATIONS.
Background research, preparation of Preliminary Risk Assessment, and intrusive investigations have been completed and reported by Pentland Macdonald. Laboratory test results are awaited before completion of the Generic Quantitative Risk Assessment document. A full report will be submitted for the Planning Application in September 2020.
The existing structure has been investigated by visual inspections and intrusive surveys. A thorough report has been prepared by Taylor & Boyd for the Planning Application.
A detailed survey has been carried out by LSS to ensure the accuracy of our proposal, dimensions to adjacent buildings and scaled drawings for development.
Thankyou for taking the time to review the content of this consultation document and we would appreciate if you can share your thoughts
on the proposal as part of this process.
Following the end of the consultation period (28th August 2020), your feedback will be taken into consideration in finalising the proposed
Once submitted, the opportunity for further public engagement in the decision making process will take place in the normal manner through the submission of representations to the Council following the applications advertisement and neighbour notification procedures.
HOW TO FIND OUT MORE?
On our website you can leave feedback, raise questions or leave your contact details should you require further assistance.
Two digital drop in sessions will be held via Zoom on 21st August and 26th August 2020 with presentations and live Q & A. To participate, please call or email us, giving your contact number, email address and we will forward a link to the Zoom meeting.
If you wish to discuss the proposal you can also do this by telephone: 02891 852263
WRITE TO US
If you wish to make comments or raise questions you can also do this by writing:
Madison Lofts Consultation
Cubic3 Studio, Ava Gallery,
Co Down. BT19 1RN
Or email us at
REQUEST PRINTED FORMAT
In the interests of good environmental policy we will minimise printed copies. These can be made available on request.
Please note all comments should be with Cubic no later than 28th August 2020.