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Great Ouse Marina

Great Ouse Marina

Figura designed this mixed-use development for a speculative developer.

We provided feasibility studies, planning applications, building and landscape designs, construction drawings and specifications. 

Figura's design approach resulted in a considerable improvement in planning permission on this difficult site.

Historic considerations were important in the conversion of the large brick granary into apartments. The demolition of adjoining buildings allowed the creation of new houses. 

Figura's designs maintain the historical and industrial nature of the site, while creating efficient modern living environments using timber frame construction. 

Around these buildings, second homes and a marina have been designed by Figura to emphasise the modern nautical function of the project. 

Since the whole site is in the floodplain of the river, Figura took great care to create a safe and sustainable environment as a model for other floodplain developments. 

The Granary Conversion

The roof was raised to create a 3rd floor, but Figura’s design respects the proportions of the old building so that the new roof looks as if it was part of the original construction. We designed windows, doors and balconies to be modern, but as unobtrusive as possible, so that the integrity of the heavy brick granary remains unspoilt.

The New Houses

These buildings are attached to the granary, as were their demolished predecessors.

Figura’s design brings the flavour of boathouse and warehouse buildings which were formerly associated with the granary. It avoids the overtly residential appearance of so many redevelopments. 

The buildings are designed to fit between existing protected trees, and they are raised out of the floodplain. Their super-insulated prefabricated timber frame construction creates efficient modern living environments within this historic setting.


The Design Approach & Planning Permission

Figura secured increases of 20, 50 & 22% in the buildable areas of each phase of the project by sensitive design.

The local authority was persuaded through negotiation that the extension to the granary, the design of the new houses, the clusters of 2nd homes and the sensitive treatment of the river and floodplain merited the requested increase in density.

Extensive Landscape and Floodplain Impact Statements, as well as a complete design guide, were needed to support the applications.

Although this process was drawn out, the developer's patience was rewarded by the large increase in value of the project created by Figura's work.

Timber Frame Construction

Figura designed prefabricated panels, posts & beams to speed the erection sequence and reduce cost. Prefabrication means that several parts of the building process can be accomplished simultaneously.

The impact on the site and the surrounding environment was reduced during construction.

The site landscaping began earlier. The buildings were ready for sale and occupation much sooner.

The inherent strength of the frame allowed Figura to include large span interior spaces, cantilevers and wide expanses of window.

The resulting houses have maximum contact with the water, which is the lifeblood of this site.

2nd homes & Floodplain Development

Figura arranged these buildings in clusters close to the water, leaving large areas of the site open and reducing the impact on the landscape.

The homes are raised on piers, streamlined and oriented so as not to impede the flow of floodwater.

The buildings are designed to be completely prefabricated off-site, so as to minimise the impact of construction on the river. The riverbanks are to be naturalised, using anti-erosion technology.

The use of hard revetments is kept to a minimum.

This reduces the long-term impact on the floodplain as well as the cost of construction.

Figura designed the project as a model of how development within a floodplain can be sustainable.

Saigon River apartments

Saigon River apartments

Figura designed these apartment buildings on the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for a speculative developer based in Hong Kong.

The design is based on traditional Vietnamese buildings, adapted to the scale of the project and the needs of the burgeoning ex-patriate community.

Sweeping roofs and large eaves carry heavy rains away from the buildings into landscaped flood-control ponds, which discharge into the river at low tide, avoiding the flash flooding so common in the area. Natural ventilation is promoted between the long bands of windows and continuous ridge vents. 

Duplex and Triplex apartments have dual access, combining the advantages of normal apartment access with the romance of walk-up townhouses. It is possible to enter directly from the car park, or to walk down the sloping side of the buildings towards the river into landscaped gardens and onto a water taxi, commuting to work in the city centre.

Hill Holt Farm

Hill Holt Farm

Figura planned the redevelopment of this old farmyard complex.

It involved the conversion of some buildings, the demolition of others and the addition of new buildings. 

Figura designed the new buildings to complement the old and to provide a modern living environment within the old farmyard. 

The result is a harmonious blend of old and new.

Rectory Farm

Rectory Farm

Rectory Farm lies near the top of a chalk ridge. It enjoys commanding views but can be brutalized by winter winds. The ancient local settlement pattern has resulted in villages and farmyards strung along the ridge overlooking farmland below. The farm buildings were laid out to form a wall to the winter winds creating a protected farmyard behind. The site was redeveloped when these buildings became redundant.

The Old Farmyard

The Previous Plan

Figura's Plan

The site was acquired with a plan to demolish all but 5 of the existing 23 farm buildings and to construct an access road serving 5 new houses. This plan would have emphasized the separation of the development from the village and exposed the site to the vicious Northwest winds. It represents the standard approach to development, but would have destroyed the built memory of centuries of human habitation. It would not have maximized the site’s potential.

Figura’s plan preserved 17 of the 23 existing buildings. Where possible, the line of protective barns was maintained. Access was provided by a series of individual and shared private gravel drives. The better quality barns were converted into living accommodation, the rest used for outbuildings. New buildings were added to divide the linear farmyard into a series of domestic scale courtyards in keeping with the established tradition.

Permission was granted for the plan with local support in spite of a 40% increase in density. The result is a continuum of public, semi-private and private spaces which feels as if it has been there for years. The 4 points of access integrate this into the fabric of the village. Rectory Farm is now quite different from the normal modern development. It feels part of the village rather than a separate estate on a cul-de-sac. 

It offers glimpses of other peoples worlds and the occasional public view through to the farmland beyond, making the development as a whole more interesting. It has been popular with clients and all properties sold before they were completed. Resale turnover has been quick where it has occurred and Figura’s plan cost less to build than the standard approach.


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