Located on the site of the former Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology (GLOSCAT), Linden Homes’ 1.78ha Greyfriars Quarter represents a mixed-use commercial and residential development offering a selection of 183 high quality one- to three-bedroom apartments and 2, 3 and 4-bedroom houses, as well as a cafe and restaurant space. The presence of larger houses reflects a desire to return families to the centre of Gloucester, while the inclusion of 37 affordable units offers access to young families and first-time buyers.
The scheme is located within Gloucester’s City Centre Conservation Area and, though the surrounding urban-scape is largely a product of Victorian in-filling, the site is framed by a number of Grade I and II listed structures which make a major contribution to the special architectural and historical interest of the area. The most important of these are the 12th century St. Mary de Crypt Church and the scheduled 13th century Greyfriars Priory which lies immediately adjacent to the site at the north and which lends its name to the scheme. Brunswick road itself forms part of the Via Sacra connecting the key historic sites of the city and offers one of the principal views of the conservation area.
In light of the historical significance of the area, it was crucial that Greyfriars Quarter made a positive contribution to the City Centre Conservation Area; respected the designated assets in terms of design and massing, and created a suitable enclosure of the Via Sacra and enhanced setting for the Greyfriars monument and library.
With the character of the greater Greyfriars area adversely affected by ad hoc construction on the GLOSCAT site since the 1930s, Linden Homes was conscious of the need to sensitively restore its architectural integrity.
The site plan is designed around the original rectilinear Roman street pattern; the intimate scale and enclosed nature of the development referencing the historical backstreets of Gloucester. The retention and improvement of historic open space along Brunswick Road and the creation of Greyfriars Square offer thoughtfully-designed public space, which contributes significantly to streetscape and reinforces the sense of urban community. Terracing along Parliament Street provides the scheme with a strong built edge, while a series of three detached ‘villas’ stand in place of a single over-powering frontage to mark the limit of the site on Brunswick Street.
By eschewing complicated materials and designs, Linden Homes’ clever use of brick has succeeded in realising simple, legible, built forms which contribute significantly to the surrounding area. Thoughtful articulation of windows and an emphasis on verticality serves to reduce the overall mass in line with the architectural character of the Brunswick streetscape.
This is perfectly complemented by the use of Ibstock Audley Red Mixture in panels and Kevington deep precast brick-faced lintels of contrasting soldier courses, offset by recessed panels of waterstruck distressed Commercial Red brickwork. Fulfilling Linden Homes’ requirement for high-quality, locally-sourced material, the use of Ibstock brick in this complementary arrangement of bonds and detail, brings a modern and sophisticated twist to structures otherwise defined by their simplicity.