“Water is the driving force in nature.
ARTIST AND INVENTOR
LEONARDO DA VINCI
Soar Island, a semi-urban area is in need of an enhanced identity. Our proposal is about the harmony between nature and modern life. The challenge, to mediate between Leicester’s historic urban grain and the natural habitat of the island and its waterways.
By creating a podium for parking and vehicle circulation, and concentrating the developments into 3 blocks, this allows the Island to maintain its openness with nature. This new neighbourhood without roads allows for the landscape and buildings to become one. Residential and commercial uses converge towards the centre of the island creating a new piazza. Towards the southern tip, the green open spaces are maintained and improved, while a new Cultural Centre enhances its use. An outdoor exhibition space and water-sport centre also link to the water’s edge to enliven the waterways. A series of green bands create a continuous, natural experience that links to the city and offer public access to the water’s edge.
The form of the building blocks takes a direct inspiration from the geometry of the island landscape. The proposal explores and experiments with 2 types of housing typology: the Victorian town-house and Industrial warehouse building. The mixed-use typology allows for between 90 and 150 homes which meet’s the Councils target for the development area.
The urban strategy of the scheme is to open up the islands wildlife and natural environments as much as possible. Open green space is key to this design and will offer greater well-being for new residents. Private jetty gardens populate the west side of the island away from the nature walk to the east. The buildings step back from the water’s edge to offer elevated gardens that overlook the Canal and River Soar.
The proposal aims to source local materials as much as possible, the design lending itself well to the local materiality of the neighbouring architecture because it is typically brick. Handmade-brick walls and glass balconies are all references to the Leicester canal-side setting.