B&Q Colchester

Essex, Colchester

This B&Q store is the first phase of our Hythe Quays Masterplan. Initially there was resistance from the planners to such a large building, together with an equally large area of car parking on this prominent part of the site. However, as the design developed and we demonstrated the inherent size of the building could be utilised to enhance its appearance ‘they came on board’ and became strong supporters of the contemporary design, which was a first for Colchester, better known for its “Essex Design Guide” architecture.

Our design concept was for a robust building with references to the historical port environment. We believed this would be best achieved with a contemporary and well order and legible building design. The design expresses the structural grid of the building, providing a sense of scale, rhythm and interest, which is enhanced by the long facades of the building. A narrow strip of clerestorey glazing directly under the roof, expresses the roof, breaks down the scale and brings a sense of lightness to the building. Brickwork and flat metal panels generally alternate on the façade, depending on their position in relation to particular functions around / with-in the building. Where openings are not required panels of brickwork are utilised, where openings are required flat metal panelling is utilised. A full height canopy along the full frontage of the building, providing protect for customers, is constructed in finely detailed structural steelwork, expressing connotations of crane gantries. The entrance to the store is a triple height glazed structure, clearly visible day and night.

The small rotunda building, at the entrance to the site, has a long storey to it. The planners wanted to see traditional features built into a perimeter wall around the site, and we had a problem in accommodating a sprinkler tank installation on the site, which was aggravated by the planner’s insistence that it must not be visible. Our solution was to combine the two problems. We enclosed the installation in a steel structure, incorporation metal and glazed panels and located it in the front landscape area of the site, as reference to a gate house. To make the most of this structure for the client we topped it with a tall pylon sign.

The building was awarded 1st place in the RIBA / Colchester 2020 Civic Design Awards.


size: Store 9,400m², Builders Yard 2,900m², Garden Centre 2,000m²

value: £7.0m

status: completed 2001

client: Europe Colchester Ltd

part of: Hythe Quays Masterplan

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