Project DescriptionLocated on the North bank of the River Wensun, adjacent to the football stadium, NR1 residential development provides 174 new dwellings, including 54 affordable homes. Additionally it increases public access to the the river walk, and contributes to the green infrastructure network.
The driving factors for the project where economic and environmental. The brief was to re-design the second phase of the original masterplan, in order to increase the number of units, reduce construction costs, and provide a strategy that allowed the delivery of the project to adapt to market demands over the course of construction. In addition to the economic pressures, the scheme had to ensure the preservation and enhancement of the riverfront ecosystem and it’s biodiversity, while creating a social fabric that fosters community.
The original monolithic proposal was replaced by a series of six, 6-story, compact blocks dispersed across the riverfront. This fragmentation of the site permits large swaths of green space to permeate between the buildings, and connects the street to the river walk. The blocks are raised off the ground by piloties, and parking for the residents is accommodated at street level bellow. This non-structure, parking structure allowed each block to be delivered independently, enabling construction to stop and start in response to market demands. Additionally this arrangement provided a 20% uplift in the number of units, while reducing build costs by 20%.
Through the centre of the site, perpendicular to the river is a public plaza. Incorporated in the plaza is a public plaza. Incorporated in the plaza is a green swale of soft landscaping to attenuate water run off. Running the length of the site is a landscape sculpture, covered in meadow grass, it’s rolling waves echoing the rhythm of the river. This long undulating knoll provides food and habitat for local floral and fauna, as well a public gathering space along the river walk.
In contrast to the fluidity of the landscape, the buildings of NR1 are plutonic forms, composed of tautly clad aluminium wedges, stacked one upon the other. Their uneven stacking, create elongated covered balconies over looking the river. Bisecting the east and west facades are ribbons of full height, coloured glass windows. The aluminium skins act as reflective canvases, capturing the activities, colours and rhythm of the riverbank and the green landscaping.
The first block, located on the western boundary contain the 54 affordable units. It’s extended profile and see-saw balconies, deviate somewhat from the development’s principles of form. The second block in is the archetype for the project, it’s Rubix's Cube like ability to twist and turn allow for river views, privacy, and variety. Blocks 5 and 6 on the eastern boundary act as a bookend to the site. Their 6-story atrium with angular glazing creates a fissure between the buildings. The two central blocks flanking the plaza were the last to be built, by which time the market showed a demand for larger family homes. An additional story was added to each building, bringing diversity and height to the centre of the scheme.
The symbiotic relationship between the built and natural environments at NR1 provide Norwich with a unique destination point along the river, and plays an important role in the future expansion of the city centre as it marches eastward along the River Wensun.