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Planning approval has been granted for our design for a new residential development in Guildford, UK. The site, located along a steep ridge connecting Guildford Cathedral with the train station, was occupied for over 90 years by Safeguard Coaches who operated a fleet of buses and coaches across Surrey.  

After 90 years as a bus garage, and given the sites proximity to the train station, we aimed to minimise cars in the proposal. A fundamental design intention was to create a central landscape area in the scheme with no vehicles whatsoever, which would be the visual and social focus for the scheme. This will also be an important part of developing a resilient drainage strategy, and an important habitat for local biodiversity.

The slope of the site informed the massing. The roof geometry avoids horizontal eaves which would exaggerate the height with respect to the sloped ground plane, instead following the overall site topography through a series of undulations. This massing approach in addition to a series of setbacks allows the development to be read as individual houses, as opposed to a single block of flats. While the material palette of brick, and copper reflects the materials of the nearby Guildford Cathedral; enhancing the public realm


A fabric first approach, coupled with a communal air source heat pump provides a low carbon design approach, which will be an exemplar within Guildford.

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Architect : A-Zero Architects

Giles Bruce, Shoichi Sado, Phillip Toyin

Planning Consultant : Fuller Long Planning Consultants

Visualisations : Atelier Replica



Balance amenity and density

As a speculative development, achieving a high density was fundamental for commercial viability. The scheme provides 19 units within three blocks (11 x 1 bed units, 3 x 2 bed units and 5 x 3 bed units). Five of the units will be affordable housing.

The site strategy positions the three blocks around the central courtyard which faces south toward the sun. The blocks were articulated to provide a visual distinction between individual units, and the gable chamfered to ensure that all units are dual aspect. The site is sloped by 3.5m across its length, and this level difference creates a series of steps between the three blocks in section, with a public realm that is stitched through the site by a series of interconnecting pathways. 

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