The client brief for Bohouse was to design a scheme of 20no. Live/Work apartments for rent to people in the digital or creative sectors with their own business. The site is just north of Middlesbrough Railway Station in an area adjacent to Middlehaven, masterplanned by Alsop some years ago, and is part of a successful regeneration project known as Bohozone that includes a digital business acceleration centre, Boho One, Platform Arts, artists’ studios and workshops and has future buildings planned generating new businesses and employment in the digital media/technology sector.
Very few Planning constraints existed as the site forms part of a demolished housing site that Middlesbrough hopes will continue to mark a new direction for the town, meaning that a strong contemporary design was encouraged. The building is a long, narrow three storey block running north up Sussex Street, re-establishing a frontage along this historic street, with two ‘rooms on the roof’ adding a fourth storey with roof terraces adjacent. There are three front doors serving stairways with apartments arranged around them resulting in an efficient net to gross area and good prospects for a social and business aspect to neighbourliness, an important factor in the briefing for the building which anticipated a ‘networking’ environment both in and around the building. To the south the block forms one side of a high quality public realm developed with Boho One, acting as an orientation space for Bohozone and a meeting/resting space between the town and the emerging Middlehaven beyond.
The principal skin of the whole block is blue brickwork, simply detailed to allow crisp and deliberate openings, returns and junctions. In a number of areas this skin is cut away to the thickness of half a brick to reveal areas of bright colour accenting elevations, important areas in the building or signalling to a wider urban area that the Bohozone is arriving and wanting to be noticed. The palette of materials relates to its neighbour Boho One becoming a quiet neighbour. Colour panels are Trespa and windows are aluminium framed.
Each apartment has one or two bedrooms and a dedicated work space. This is located near the front door and is able to be opened out but remain distinct from the living area of the residence. A high level of design input has been achieved relative to projects of this type in the area resulting in very desirable homes with work space and even in two instances roof terraces in the centre of town.
A large opening on to Sussex Street allows carparking behind gates in an undercroft to the rear of the building. This provides secure parking and is treated in a similar way to other cut away sections of the building in that the whole of the undercroft walls, services and soffit are painted red imparting warmth to an otherwise hard external space. A very limited soft landscape area forms part of the external scheme that joins to a garden terrace alongside Boho One offering another meeting space in the semi private space between the two buildings and reinforcing the connections between the two schemes.
Sustainability Bohouse has achieved a Code Level 3 using air source heat pumps, low energy fittings and managing to achieve through compact planning many of the required spatial and utility features internally to the apartment. Local smart metering allows a user interface with energy consumption linking use to expenditure. The essential ethos of the scheme promotes sustainable transport use, the scheme is directly outside the rail station with good connections to the main East Coast north-south rail link, within 400m of the main bus interchange and adjacent the retail heart of the town. Within a restricted cost envelope and on a restricted and awkwardly shaped site the environmental credentials of the scheme are good. All supplies are metered and Erimus operate a smart meter and monitoring regime that will monitor energy consumption and coach good energy management where necessary.