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Bircham Park MSCP // S333

Plymouth, United Kingdom

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More than just a car park this is a hybrid building that combines two types of apparently contradictory operations; an office and retail building with the utility of a car park building to create a new compact typology. It forms part of an entrance and visitor hub delivering services, amenities, and secure parking for 600 cars to 11,000 daily staff, patients and visitors.

The slope is utilised to ‘hide’ 6 storeys of parking in the valley with a more modest 3 storeys of offices, retail, and food and beverage addressing a new public street.

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One dominant level extends west to form Outlook Terrace; a sunny public belvedere activated by shops and cafes overlooking Bircham Valley.

Levels are grouped into pairs to address the scale, which shift in plan to create walkways, terraces and areas of shelter. A series of ‘landscape’ treatments cover the car park; Ivy where the base of the building emerges to the south, a forest-like lattice of powder-coated metal bars and a screen of pine logs.

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The project lies north of Plymouth city centre and is the first phase of the North West Quadrant (NWQ) redevelopment by Wharfside Regeneration as part of its integration with the future plans for the adjacent Derriford Hospital. The hospital is the biggest in the South-west.The brief was two-fold. Firstly to remove on-grade, hospital parking currently on the site to release land for further development phases.

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Secondly for the building to improve the patient’s and staff’s experience on arrival. The topography with its significant change in levels drove the design and layout. A high-pressure gas main to the west, and the existing steep eastern road restricted the size of the footprint. The challenge was also to maximize the opportunity for active frontage with a limited budget.

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To reduce excavation costs the car park is a scissor layout that follows the slope. This provides dual entrances delivering cars at different levels and subsequently avoiding congestion. The natural slope allows level access to different parts of the building. Large-scale graphics, colour, and lighting give clear orientation at entry points and around the deep plan.

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