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    Arc, Bury St Edmunds


    A masterplan for a new piece of townscape in this Suffolk market town

    Location:Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
    Client:St Edmundsbury Borough Council / Centros Miller
    Awards:Civic Trust Award
    RIBA Regional Award

    Arc is a mixed-use redevelopment of a former cattle market on the western edge of Bury St Edmunds, one of the best preserved market towns in the country.

    Hopkins Architects was commissioned by the town to create a masterplan that would link the historic core into the adjacent four hectare development site, which had latterly been used as a car park. Our first move was to divide the site in two, and focus solely on intensive redevelopment of the eastern half, with the western half left for future generations to develop incrementally.

    Drawing on the practice’s experience masterplanning Northgate in Chester, the masterplan extends the old town’s linked medieval spaces and pedestrian routes through the historic perimeter and into the new development area. At the heart of this new urban grain is the public space of Charter Square, bounded on three sides by new narrow streets. This is also the location for The Apex, a venue conceived as a modern market hall with a multi-use, 500-seat performance space.

    Instead of creating a single large mall, a series of new, smaller buildings respond in scale to local landmarks such as the Victorian-era Corn Exchange. Apart from two all-retail buildings, most of the new elements have cafes and shops at ground level below two storeys of flats. Inspired by the scale and form of medieval merchant houses, these comprise a single storey concrete colonnade at street level with a terrace of timber-framed gables above.

    The Arc included the practice’s first department store, a 7,500m² anchor store. Clad in sand-cast aluminium panels, the double-curved form is designed to reduce the building's perceived height and bulk. The new city quarter provides a total of 62 homes and 25,000m² of retail space.