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1 The Island Quarter, Nottingham

Words:
Regional Awards Jury

This lively public space by Jestico + Whiles with CPMG Architects sets the bar impressively high for the continuing development of a once-neglected area – and wins a 2024 RIBA East Midlands Award

1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry

2024 RIBA East Midlands Award

1 The Island Quarter, Nottingham
Jestico + Whiles with CPMG Architects for The Conygar Investment Company
Contract value: Confidential 
GIA: 1,782m2

1 The Island Quarter is a welcome addition to Nottingham’s entertainment and cultural scene. It forms the gateway to the future development of an area once occupied by the Boots pharmaceutical factory, a site that had sat derelict since the early 1990s. After a wave of failed proposals by others, the current developer bought the site from receivers in 2016, and embarked on an ambitious new masterplan. The architects were tasked with creating its first new building, and their design makes the most of the location alongside a previously neglected canal. The tower, housing the stairs, confidently announces itself on the busy road junction, while the red brick and arches root the building in Nottingham’s industrial past. Accommodating restaurants and events spaces, the project has delivered a show of intent, giving the community and planners confidence that a high-quality wider development will follow.

  • 1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
    1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
  • 1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
    1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
  • 1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
    1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
  • 1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
    1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
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The building is set over three storeys. A drinks and dining venue on the lower floor connects to a canalside events space, hosting a stage and large screen. The upper two floors house a more formal restaurant with views over the canal. The client retains and manages the venues, and co-ordinates public events in the outdoor space. This shows a long-term commitment to make a success of the Island Quarter, acting as a draw for people to this latterly redundant area.

A large tower had been planned for the plot, but the discovery of a mains sewer crossing the site required a rethink. It is clear that a great deal of thought went into how a smaller-scale building would sit in the context of a busy road junction, a canal basin and its neighbour, the old Nottingham London Road railway station. The jury thought the response an impressively appropriate building, one that has the feeling it might have stood on the site for a century or more – a sentiment echoed by some residents.

The Grade II-listed steps down to the canal have been renovated, and for the first time the tow path is accessible to all via a new ramped access. Replacing the 3m-high retaining wall that framed the canal with windows and terraces has brought the canal back into public view, a generous and welcome design decision. 

  • 1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
    1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
  • 1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
    1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
  • 1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
    1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
  • 1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
    1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
  • 1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
    1 The Island Quarter. Credit: Christopher Terry
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1 The Island Quarter sets the bar impressively high for the continuing development of the area, architecturally and as a new destination for Nottingham’s community. It announces with pride the arrival of the development to Nottingham and reconnects the city with the forgotten canal. For the client it provides a lively public space that will hopefully continue to influence the surrounding future development.

See the rest of the RIBA East Midlands winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor Sir Robert McAlpine
Structural engineer Tier Consult
Environmental/M&E engineer Introba
Landscape architect Axis
Acoustic engineer Elementa
Lighting design Studio Fractal
Project management WES Consultancy
Interior design Macaulay Sinclair
Civil engineer BWB Consulting

 

Credit: Jestico + Whiles
Credit: Jestico + Whiles
Credit: Jestico + Whiles
Credit: Jestico + Whiles
Credit: Jestico + Whiles
Credit: Jestico + Whiles

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