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FIRST LOOK

BPTW completes 131 homes at Rochester Riverside in Kent

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The latest phase in a development by Countryside and the Hyde Group sits between Rochester’s city centre and the River Medway

BPTW has finished 131 homes out of a 264-home scheme in Rochester, which is due for completion by the end of the year. The practice developed the design from HTA Design’s original masterplan for the site on 24.5ha of brownfield land. 

The seven-phase Rochester Riverside masterplan aims to provide up to 1,400 homes (25 per cent of which are to be affordable) and 8,000m2 of non-residential space, including commercial space, a footbridge and a primary school. Medway Council gave outline permission for the £400 million regeneration scheme in 2017.

This phase includes houses and apartments, as well as 885m2 of commercial floorspace and an 81-room hotel also designed by BPTW for Travelodge.

Bptw rochester riverside  2 © robert greshoff

Bptw rochester riverside 2 © robert greshoff

The architectural cues for the housing were taken from the wider Medway area, combined with references to Rochester’s historic fabric, and the scheme’s overall layout is designed to offer improved connections between the town and the River Medway, with a network of open spaces.

BPTW has undertaken the first three phases of Rochester Riverside, developing the design for 656 homes of all tenures. HTA designed 32 homes within the first phase. 

Bptw rochester riverside  11 © robert greshoff

Bptw rochester riverside 11 © robert greshoff

Architect’s view

Rochester Riverside transforms a previously derelict piece of land into a vibrant new neighbourhood, by re-establishing valuable connections between Rochester and the river. The scheme is shaped by a generous network of distinct, public spaces, ranging from landscaped public realm to more civic spaces, such as the completed station square. Framed by streets and homes, this network improves connectivity across the site and improves physical and visual connections to the Medway, opening up the riverfront for use and enjoyment by both residents and the wider community.

Here, a 2.5km riverside walk follows the entire northern and eastern boundary of the site. Dedicated to pedestrian and bike travel, the walk is designed to weave through multiple pockets of landscaped, riverside green space, encouraging active lifestyles and embedding the site’s natural heritage into the scheme. This allows the riverside saltmarsh to flourish naturally, supporting the local ecology and biodiversity.

Set within the public realm is a series of public art interventions, created by two artists in close collaboration with BPTW to celebrate the landscape, wildlife and heritage of the specific on-site locations in which they are installed. Forming a key component of Rochester Riverside’s high-quality public space network, these are designed to ease wayfinding and strengthen the scheme’s unique identity, while ensuring that it remains rooted in the rich history of the surrounding area.

In addition to an 81-bed hotel – also designed by BPTW, and now occupied by Travelodge – the scheme benefits from a café (Costa) and supermarket (Co-op) which sit within HTA’s block, with a majority of homes in walking distance of Rochester’s high-speed train station. By providing direct and accessible connections to Rochester’s high street and limiting the onsite commercial offer to convenience, the scheme also seeks to encourage new residents to support local businesses, weaving the new development back into the local community.

Across Rochester Riverside, the streets are defined by a ‘Durobrivae’ concept, which draws upon the remnants of the Roman wall that once surrounded Rochester. Over time, this has become embedded into the existing vernacular, with homes now forming part of, sitting on or layering into the wall. BPTW’s design offers a contemporary nod to this historic feature, echoing this relationship through colour, materiality and strong proportions, to give streets their own personality within one cohesive framework. 

Bptw rochester riverside  10 © robert greshoff

Bptw rochester riverside 10 © robert greshoff

The design also strikes a balance between the town’s historic fabric and drawing inspiration from the wider Medway area, to denote the more public and private spaces within the scheme. Along the riverfront, this can be seen with large, dramatic rooflines that vary organically, inspired by dockyards, while more domestic, and urban scales are found in the roofscapes of the more intimate secondary streets. References to Rochester’s rich conservation area and the character of Chatham and the Historic Naval Dockyard are reflected in the scheme’s materials, detailing and proportions. 

Precise brick and service detailing – including drainpipes – are complemented with a contextual material palette of colourful brickwork and timber weatherboard. Changes in brick colour and texture denote the home entrances and contrasting brick courses frame the window detailing, emphasising the projecting bays and dormer windows which have been incorporated to add interest and variety to streetscapes.

Homes along the river edge feature living spaces at first-floor level as opposed to ground level, in order to make the most of extensive riverside and marshland views. Throughout the scheme, each home benefits from a private garden or balcony. The homes also feature renewable energy sources and energy-efficient measures.

Bptw rochester riverside  block 3c top floor plan © bptw

Bptw rochester riverside block 3c top floor plan © bptw

Top floor plan: Block 3C

Project data

Start on site November 2017
Completion February 2020
Site size 2.97 hectares
Net internal floor area 50.9m² (1b2p), 62.53m² (1b3p), 71.12m² (2b4p), 86.43m² (3b5p)
Gross internal floor area (houses) 175.45m² (Dunlin, 4b6p), 184.30m² (Dunlin with bay, 4b6p), 165.73m² (Amherst, 4b7p), 152.56m² (Heron, 3b5p), 165.79m² (Heron with conservatory, 3b5p), 104.19m² (Shellduck, 3b5p), 103.98m² (Darland, 3b4p)
Form of contract or procurement route Design & Build
Construction cost £400 million (all phases)
Architect BPTW (lead architect), HTA (masterplan)
Executive architect BPTW
Client Countryside and Hyde
Landscape architect LUC
Structural engineer Brand Consulting
M&E consultant MWL
QS Countryside
Planning consultant BPTW
Landscape consultant LUC
Acoustic consultant Ramboll
Project manager Countryside and Hyde
CDM coordinator Countryside
Approved building inspector NHBC
Main contractor Countryside
CAD software used Revit

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