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Trades Lane Apartments

High quality Mid-Market rent aprtments for Hillcrest Housing Association on prominent city centre corner site.

Project – Trades Lane Apartments

Client – Hillcrest Housing Association / Private Developer

Contract Value - Under construction


Involved from the outset, we began to look at feasibility studies and initial design options for a prominent Dundee city centre on the corner of Trades Land and Seagate which had lain vacant for a number of years.

The site had undergone a recent demolition of the existing two-storey factory unit, once used by McLeish Fresh Food, but was at one point home to the James Watson & Co Whisky Bond, employing 300 people. In July 1906, this was the site of what has been described site as the most destructive fire in the history of Dundee, burning for 12 hours. The fire was described by an eyewitness as sending "rivers of burning whisky" through the city.

The site neighboured the Category A-listed Watson’s Bond Building (converted to apartments) on both the South and West Boundaries. As such we were mindful that the design proposals produced must be architecturally respectful of these rich existing buildings. The aim was to develop a contemporary yet respectful development that sought to both integrate within that context, and robustly reinstate the current void in the Seagate streetscape.

To do this we employed a considered use of materiality and detailing. Aged appearance buff coloured brick was utilized in an attempt to both integrate with the largely sandstone City Centre context while providing reference to the neighbouring red brick Watson’s Bond – without potentially generating a ‘pastiche’ extension to that building. The fenestration (windows and openings) of the proposals also drew from the neighbouring Watson’s Bond, to attribute a clear and ‘unfussy’ façade, in-keeping with the industrial context.

The key facades were also broken up using ordered construction details, such as the coping breaking up the floor levels and referencing the coursing bands of Watson’s Bond. The corner of Seagate and Trades Lane were also ‘opened up’ to create steel feature balconies that punctuate the robust façade. The two top floors of the building were designed to be distinguished from the lower levels on the key facades, achieved through the introduction of ‘brick piers’ at high level as seen in Watson’s Bond. In addition, the two upper levels use a slight variation on the material palette to provide further distinction.

Balconies have been provided for the majority of the flats for views both to the Law (to the North) and to the Tay (to the South), while at ground floor level a small yard area has been provided for the amenity of residents. The commercial entity on the ground floor has been given a large shopfront area with a high degree of glazing; the corner between Seagate and Trades Lane elevations has also been ‘cut’ in an attempt to actively channel the passing footfall within the entity.
Being over 18 metres in height, the proposals required us to design to comply with the strictest category of fire safety considerations, including escape planning, non-combustibility certification of materials, smoke control systems and advanced fire suppression systems. We worked hand in hand with both the Fire Engineering Consultant and M&E Engineer to create proposals that either met or exceed all Building Standards regulations. We were also able to design some innovative architectural features to incorporate these critical functions, such as the fully glazed central stairwell with sculpted glass roof section which opens automatically for smoke ventilation in the event of a fire.

As we have done many times before, we worked in great detail to ensure that the proposals were architecturally successful in terms of their integration into context, that the building comprehensively met regulatory standards and that the scheme remained economically efficient for the developer. The project is currently in construction, due for completion in 2021.


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