Part 2 – Polina Pencheva


The project looks at the ruinous landscape of the historically significant St. Andrew’s Dock in Hull and proposes a strategic design approach for the wider site, whilst focusing on the development of a new building typology (the assembly), which will give the site a new lease of life in the realm of intergenerational practice.


The site is located in Hull, North-East England. Hull – once a prosperous city with connections to the whole world, is now characterized by urban decay, youth unemployment and an ageing population. Within this complex urban setting, on the border between the “city sophisticated” and ‘the struggling elderly’, lies St. Andrew’s Dock – a former unique dock area serving UK’s biggest fishing fleet. Today, however, every structure on the site has been reduced to ruins or lost completely. The only 5 remaining structures on the site are: the Sea Fish Authority Building; the locally listed Lord Line Building- a historic relic signifying Hull’s lost port glory; the JMARR building; the Grade II Listed Water Tower and Pump House; and the Insurance building. The site is further characterized by its environmental conditions: strong south-west winds and flood risk which led to the first strategic site-wide move: to use the now dry dock’s capacity, to allow for flood relief and renewable energy generation.

Polina Pencheva

In parallel to revealing the site’s hidden potential, research of studio themes started shaping the programme. UK’s elderly population is growing and this project sees the ‘ageing’ as individuals who have time and resources, wealth and wisdom to not only require services but also invest, advise, volunteer, share knowledge and support younger generations – struggling to find work or start up on their own. Thus the programme focuses on creating publicly accessible community spaces and offering intergenerational entrepreneurship schemes which will enable both young and elderly. The project challenges current policies and proposes the replacement of formal retirement age with personal work-volunteer plans and would establish on site UK’s first governmentally support time bank. Derived during research of city, site and user’s needs and the notion of flux the programme has 3 key themes: knowledge exchange, civic and remembrance with corresponding spaces distributed across the whole site.

The project sees progressive design phasing as key to deliver the ambitious scheme, respond to the changing necessities of a dynamic intergenerational group and accommodate for future economic and environmental uncertainties. Thus the proposal is highly fragmented grouping existing building works with new build elements in strategic phases – aiming to create a new working landscape – architecture in flux. As a result two principal architectural elements were developed: durable objects designed as permanent long lasting features on the site; and transient objects having the aesthetic of the temporal, which could be changed, dismantled or recycled. Both types respond to the challenge of flooding: where the first one allows for water to penetrate the building in a controlled manner, while the second is lifted on stilts above the flood datum.

The key strategic phases which culminate in the complete vision for the site are: Strategic Phase 1 creating an ‘Aging Walkway’ connecting East and West Hull via the riverfront. An Ageing Walkway because it will allow people with the ability to walk further distances to share the experience of what they have seen has changed. Strategic Phase 2 Heal is concerned with bringing the existing buildings to a state of ‘consolidated exhibit’ – securing the remaining viable fabric to achieve a meaningful public exhibit and heritage asset with controlled access. Strategic Phase 3 Transitions Festival, takes advantage of Hull being capital of culture 2017, aiming to exploit the momentum, new capital and creative incentive surrounding it to promote the scheme. It introduces the first fragments of the new durable: The Tower, The Wall, The Assembly base. Strategic Phases 4-5 complete the vision for the site by introducing the Assembly and the Visitors Centre whilst continuing restoration of the existing structures.

Detailed design is focused on the new typology, which in scale is complimentary to the existing fabric, apart from the towers which rise above all structures to act as markers of change, but also provide vertical access and function as view platforms & wind catchers providing ventilation for the building. The fragments are organized around a central assembly space formed of a base- sculpted by the existing topography with a central area designed to flood, and an undulating roof structure suggesting movement and change. The assembly hall accommodates a number of civic objects used for debates, exhibition and performance.

The fragments of the assembly are endowed with transitiveness and temporality which when juxtaposed with the evidently longer lasting surrounding buildings give rise to a deep sense of contrast. Inspired by the architecture of the fishing market sheds previously on site – the design explores exposed internal structures and use of recycled metal, timber and translucent plastic cladding. Thus the building becomes a visual anchor in the landscape both during the day and at night.

The approach to the site being it by car, by bicycle, by foot or by boat was carefully considered. The journey through the site is a special experience: going through on the raised walkways; seeing the water, admiring the wild grass, finding moments for rest and shelter, observing historic exhibits and installations made by the users, enjoying activities designed for the youngest, the youth and the oldest.

This is St. Andrew’s Assembly, an intergenerational project; a productive landscape.



Bond Bryan Architects

West Yorkshire Society of Architects

Part of Lighting Exchanges from Deltalight

Leave a Reply