BPTW - the architects at Parkside Quarter

Chris Bath of BPTW

In conversation with… Chris Bath, one of the architects of Parkside Quarter

Following the successful launch of Parkside Quarter, the new phase of Rochester Riverside, we caught up with Chris Bath, partner at architectural firm BPTW and one of the architects behind the project.

What makes Rochester an interesting location from an architect’s point of view?

Rochester is full of contrasting elements which we sought to reflect in our design. Through extensive community consultation and numerous walkarounds, we developed an understanding of the spirit of the area, forming the key themes of ‘intimacy’, ‘variation’ and ‘industry’ which could then be reflected through combining various forms, details and materials. Drawing inspiration from the conservation areas of Rochester, the River Medway and the Historic Naval Dockyard and the juxtaposing feel of these locations, we’ve used historic materials on the development’s Western edge and industrial elements nearer to the water to mirror its surroundings. This has allowed us to capture what makes Rochester such a unique and interesting city.

What materials are being used to create the new phase?

We’ve conducted a thorough assessment of the bricks used in the local area and have taken the time to find the right suppliers to make sure the brick types reference those used within Rochester’s historic centre. Ensuring the development felt like an integral part of the town was crucial in the design process.

We’ve found many buildings with stone banding and metal balustrades nearby, which is something we also sought to replicate at Rochester Riverside to make this new development seamlessly blend in with its surroundings.

How is it different to the previous two phases?

Parkside Quarter will bring the long-awaited park to the development, which will complement the riverside walk and provide residents with more spaces for leisurely weekend or after work strolls. Situated within an already established community, the addition of more public spaces will amplify the sense of place. Rochester Riverside has been designed to encourage residents to spend more time outdoors, in line with Building for a Healthy Life principles, which is why creating attractive outdoor spaces has been of paramount importance to us, Countryside and Hyde.

Have you retained any historic elements of the site?

We have refurbished one of the area’s most striking landmarks, the 200-tonne Blue Boar Wharf dockside crane from 1957, which was previously used to unload aggregates for the nearby cement works. An important part of the town’s industrial heritage, it will remind the new residents about the town’s history for many years to come.

Our design team also ensured that references to Rochester’s rich historic fabric and the maritime industrial character of the wider Medway area were integrated into the design. This includes large, dramatic rooflines that echo industrial silhouettes and more domestic secondary streets which mirror the variation and intimacy of the local urban grain.