Masterminded by Niven Architects, the new Feethams leisure and retail development in the heart of Darlington has helped breathe new life into the County Durham market town.
Located on the site of a former bus depot in the centre Darlington, the new scheme has been developed by Urban + Civic and provides much needed leisure facilities, such as a new cinema and several new restaurants, which residents had previously had to travel out of town to enjoy.
As a major regeneration project within the town, Niven has created a scheme that both modernises and complements the local landscape. The traditional style red brick arches of the lower levels give the scheme a strong foundation and serve to pay homage to Darlington’s railway heritage, with the heavily glazed middle and upper sections providing both contrast and balance. A key focal point of the development is the piazza level that evokes the traditional atmosphere of a town market square and provides a vital community space.
The challenge of delivering such a large scale project meant that the overall massing of the scheme was a key consideration as Simon Crowe, director at Niven Architects, explains: “It was vitally important that we could give the building envelope the correct sense of mass to suit the scale of the project and the chosen glazing system fitted the bill perfectly.”
The specified glazing package was supplied by Senior Architectural Systems and installed by Neu Glas Ltd and although the aesthetic benefits of the slim framed aluminium windows and dark glazing was a key requirement, the technical performance was also paramount.
Niven opted for Senior’s patented PURe® aluminium window system, which is the first on the UK market to incorporate an enhanced thermal barrier manufactured from expanded polyurethane foam (PUR). Traditionally used in cladding and insulation products, the innovative use of PUR as a thermal barrier in windows and doors gives the PURe ® range the potential to achieve U-values as low as 0.71W/m2 K when calculated as a commercial CEN standard window and 0.93W/m2 K when calculated as a CEN standard door.
Simon adds: “Our senior architects looked at many options as part of the design and technical delivery process and Senior’s system was deemed to be the best of what was out there.”
But thermal performance wasn’t the only consideration. The specified glazing system also had to meet the specific demands of one of the landmark parts of the scheme – a new 80-bed Premier Inn hotel.
The need to ensure guests had a comfortable and undisturbed night’s sleep was a top priority as Simon explains; “The scheme is positioned next to the inner ring road of Darlington so getting the acoustic properties right was crucial to the success of the scheme.”
The glazing package also plays a key role in unifying the various elements of the scheme across each of the different levels. To create a light and modern feel, the restaurant and retail buildings incorporate Senior’s slim line curtain walling and SPW500 doors, with the attractive curved curtain walling of the new cinema complex adding further interest.
As one of the most significant regeneration projects to be undertaken in the area in recent years, the Feethams leisure development has been designed to enhance the local landscape and satisfy the needs of the local community as well as providing a valuable boost to the town’s economy and employment.