Chatham St Mary's Island New village development

The redundant naval dockyard has a number of large deep water basins and all of St Mary's which is on a promontory jutting out into the River Medway. This site has a long and illustrious Royal Navy past, which provides an important reference point for any design ideas. The long-term plan included the remediation of the whole island to remove and neutralise ground contamination to enable the whole site to be redeveloped. The redevelopment consists of over 2000 and residential dwellings, schools shops and other social facilities as well as an enhanced commercial district. The brief invited several architects' practices to submit creative design ideas for the sustainable redevelopment of the island. The design approach we took was to develop urban waterfront buildings clustered around the basins which would become yachting marinas, which lay on the south side of the island. These buildings would be in the form of high quality apartments on upper levels with the dockside level capable of being developed as restaurants, shops, small businesses and other facilities appropriate to the scale of the new village and its waterfront context. This would allow the scheme to develop naturally around the waterfront. The type of development would be graded from the urban waterfront buildings around the basins, to rural low-density dwellings around the River Medway in the same way a town or city has a sense of social centre at its heart. This gives an unconscious sense of order to residents making the townscape readable. One fundamental idea is that as many dwellings as possible should have a glimpse of the waterfront. To accomplish this, green fingers of land stretched into the site allowing views out to the River Medway. These were connected together with pedestrian and cycle path networks segregating vehicles from people. A similar device was used by the great garden city designers of previous centuries The island takes access from the mainland via a new bridge between the two basins this continued on as a central green Boulevard giving access to the remainder of the island. This was crossed by an East West axis which ran from a small park on the east of the island which utilised a large hill and formed a natural amphitheatre for outdoor events giving views through the island focused on Upnor Castle on the opposite bank of the Medway. These formal devices give structure and order to the island whilst meandering paths lined on both sides with wide greenswards which cross the axial lines give a sense of relief and informality for pedestrians. Existing site features such as concrete World War II defensive bunkers lining the riverfront where incorporated into the design becoming observation platforms overlooking the River at the upper level and providing a stopping point for the tramway system.