Rockets and Rascals

Gillespie Yunnie Architects, Plymouth, 2014

 

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Conversion of two Grade II*-listed storage cellars into a cycle hire facility

Little Rascals’ Cycle Hire is part of a wider project to improve access to Plymouth’s beautiful natural coastline.

‘Little Rascals’ is housed in two Grade II*-listed storage cellars, constructed in the 1830’s as part of the original boundary walls of the Royal William Yard to supply the entire Royal Navy Fleet with everything from salted beef, to rum and ships biscuits. The arches are located next to a tunnel which passes out of the yard through the cliff and exits abruptly into Firestone Bay with an incredible view over Drakes Island and Plymouth Sound. The tunnel was used by the Royal Navy to supply ships anchored in the sound when the wind and tide made rounding the headland too difficult.

The industrial history of the site combined with a fairly tight budget, and the preference of all involved to maintain an understanding of the previous function as storage arches and not conceal them behind a typical retail unit, led us to design something very simple, yet striking, with a stark industrial pallet of low cost durable materials.

Black onduline agricultural cladding lines both of the arches, concealing and protecting a waterproof membrane installed to keep out the considerable amount of water that used to pour through the arch roof whenever it rained. In the retail arch this is a fully drained system, but the storage arch has only a roof section inside the arch, leaving the stone walls visible and the water dripping down into a channel filled with pea gravel – this was done in an effort to leave as much stone visible as possible, and also reduced material costs.

A galvanised steel key-clamp frame free-stands inside both arches to provide hanging space for stock whilst not puncturing the waterproof membrane behind and at the same time emphasising the arch form.

The counter, coffee bar, staff pod and kitchenette are all constructed from fair-faced spruce plywood which provides a natural pale timber finish creating a striking balance to the black lining of the arch.

The unit has to do a lot within a very small space, each arch being only 3m wide by 6m long.

Because of the significance of the generally Grade I-listed site surrounding the arches, there was a need for the design to respect the original sense of place here. Hence when the huge timber doors are closed over at night, the only visible change is the cor-ten steel signage, which sits above the arch, and is part of a wider signage strategy we designed for the whole yard.

The fit out has also been designed to be easily reversible, with only the tanking fixed direct into the masonry, and the floating floor supporting the rest of the shop unit. You could in fact slide the whole shop unit out of the front door in one piece if the doors were wide enough; it is entirely self-supporting and sits on a deck of insulation straight on the existing stone floor.

Data

  • Begun: Feb 2014
  • Completed: May 2014
  • Floor area: 40m2
  • Sector: Retail
  • Total cost: £100,000
  • Funding: Plymouth City Council
  • Tender date: Jan 2014
  • Procurement: Traditional JCT procurement
  • Address: Rockets and Rascals, Royal William Yard, Plymouth, PL1 3RP, United Kingdom

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