Co-Design Process
A Steering Group was assembled of around 30 local residents (many of whom had objected to the previous design), and one local councillor who is also a member of the planning committee. In order to review the design, four focused workshops were held, all of which were attended by St George, the architects, Soundings (the independent consultancy who arranged and chaired the workshops) and Steering Group members. A council officer, Robert Offord, also attended most of the workshops to observe the process on behalf of the council.

Dates and events

15 November 2016 | Steering Group meet with interested residents
21 November 2016 | Soundings meet with core members of Steering Group
3 December 2016 | Workshop 1: Presentations from architects & Steering Group ‘walk & talk’ site and town centre visit
19 December 2016 | Interim meeting: Agree selection of architect and key aspirationss
9 January 2017 | Workshop 2: Design precedents and principles
23 January 2017 | Workshop 3: Initial design proposals
6 February 2017 | Workshop 4: Developed design proposals
During the first two meetings founder members of the Steering Group met with a wide group of local residents and then with Soundings to agree participants and process. At workshop 1, four shortlisted architects presented and took part in a walk and talk visit to the local area. Two members of the Steering Group subsequently presented design aspirations and precedents in which curvilinear, dynamic and contemporary buildings, green facades and iconic structures were shown. A fortnight later a tally of feedback votes was collated at an interim meeting and Simon Bowden Architects was appointed. At the meeting further aspirations for the new design were discussed.

At workshops 2 and 3 the focus was on agreeing design principles and then outline proposals while the final workshop, workshop 4, reviewed and commented on the developed design proposals. At this workshop the Steering Group expressed pleasure that their thoughts and concerns had been directly addressed.

A further two meetings have taken place with the Steering Group more recently, one on 18 January 2018 to review the outline planning application design drawings and the other on 23 January 2018 to discuss this exhibition and a video, describing and reflecting on the process, which has been shown at the exhibition and can be seen on this website.

The following information charts the development of the design over the
course of four workshops with the Steering Group
01 | Walk & Talk

The Steering Group conduct the short-listed architects around the town centre and site. This gives an opportunity to discuss issues in the round and to get a sense of which architect the group would best like to work with, based on immediate responses.
02 | A Round Tower?

One of the first things the Steering Group suggests is that the corner building need not be so angular. There is a feeling that a more rounded form would fit the site better, given the important southern entry ‘gateway’ nature of the site.
03 | Defining the mass

We then discuss how floor levels in modern buildings are usually equal. The Steering Group ask why ‘different uses should look the same’. This becomes a key and relevant discussion in the development of the architecture.
04 | Differentiation

Simon Bowden Architecture (SBA) experiment with a range of options to differentiate the expression of different uses on the exterior of the building. This leads to a discussion on the ‘order’ of the floor groupings.
05 | Workshops

The Steering Group work closely with Simon Bowden Architecture (SBA) and St George to agree a design brief for the architecture of the corner tower building, and then to discuss and refine the various design responses. The co-design process is fluid and highly productive.
06 | A language of architecture

Simon Bowden Architecture (SBA) and the Steering Group continue to develop an architectural language that expresses the different parts and uses of the tower building. This leads to a definition of a ‘base, middle and top’ that is classical in reference but modern in style.
07 | The evolving elevation

The elevation is developed with a super order of columns and cornices within which a number of floors and window bays are contained. This helps define the ‘base, middle and top’ and to differentiate the different uses within the building.
08 | Detailed thinking

Once the structure and layout of the building’s outward expression is agreed, SBA work up options for a structural system and cast panel construction that will best reflect this. A cast stone structure is decided for the ‘major order’ of the building.
09 | On-going workshops

Through further workshops with SBA and St George, the building and its detailing is further refined. SBA suggest that the design of metalwork and balcony railings reflect the history of Kingston, with reference to the ‘three fish’ heraldry of the town. This is especially poignant as the coat of arms refers to a river and ancient bridge close-by.
10 | Detailing

The Steering Group and SBA are keen to see the lower floors reflective of a rejuvenated public space and place. The ‘super order’ of the architecture is used to good effect to express this relationship and to offer a ‘welcoming’ aspect to the architecture of the lower floors.