5 Nov 2021 • shedkm

new shedkm designed cultural quarter circus street opens in brighton

The shedkm designed cultural quarter Circus Street was officially this week (3 November 2021) at a ribbon cutting ceremony in the heart of the scheme.

Developed by specialist regeneration developer U+I, Circus Street includes 142 homes, 450 student bedrooms, a new innovation community in 30,000 sq ft of new office space, a range of retail, food and drink outlets and, at its heart, a new home for Dance South East.

Masterplanned and designed by shedkm, the new neighbourhood celebrates Brighton’s existing character whilst providing a future focus on innovation and creativity. Sustainable principles informed the design and construction of the whole neighbourhood, which is formed around three new planted courtyards. All of the buildings are rated BREEAM Excellent and have been designed to be highly energy efficient with photovoltaic panels providing green energy to all new homes and green roof systems to encourage biodiversity.

The new neighbourhood is knitted into the existing fabric of the city, with the Brighton laines and tight urban grain reflected in the intimate and permeable masterplan. Our design approach prioritised variety and detail, creating a rich yet coherent visual mix to inspire those living and working at Circus Street to contribute to a continuously evolving neighbourhood.

See the full project here and read the welcome speech from Brighton & Hove City Council Leader Phélim Mac Cafferty, who officially opened Circus Street, below:

Having been involved in this project for almost a decade, from the architect shortlisting to chairing the Planning Committee, it has been inspiring and powerful to watch paper plans rise as distinguished buildings out of the ground in the transformation of this former derelict brownfield site. Where once stood a fruit and veg market I am delighted that through the bold partnership of U&I, the University of Brighton and the city council, that Brighton & Hove wins an exciting new cultural asset with a new home for South East Dance, much needed homes, top spec office space which will help draw companies to our shores and indeed a brand new neighbourhood with gorgeous public realm, fruit trees and public art. The development is also key to unlocking the potential for our city– to become the favoured place for a satellite office outside of London, and the best place to begin a start-up, so this is about supporting creatives, scale-ups and emerging innovation too.

Getting here wasn’t always straight forward- few things are that are worth the effort- but almost 90 years since the slum clearances of Carlton Mews, Carlton Grove, Circus Court and Circus Mews, I’m thrilled to welcome this brilliantly designed development from shedkm which has acted as a beacon that through the ravages of the storm of the last few years, there is hope. A sign for the city to declare that we are open for business- an important signal in the years since planning consent was achieved in 2014. As we seek to recover from the scarring of the economy from Brexit combined with the pandemic, the city council welcomes new jobs, opportunities and new homes as evidence of the seriousness with which we take the recovery. The bold design of the city’s newest neighbourhood stands so well in its proximity to the newly finished Valley Gardens and stands in architectural contrast with the jewel in our city’s crown, the Royal Pavilion.

It seems only fitting that in the week world leaders meet to determine a better fate for the planet we share, to remember that when planning consent was granted, I wanted the plans of dense urban development to protect our precious open land. To begin an urban renaissance which maintains our free access to the wonders of the South Downs National Park around us and which today is evidenced in many schemes that have won planning since- including the University of Brighton campus redevelopment, our brand-new hospital, Edward St and Moda. I am as passionate today about supporting the local environment and economy of the city which are two sides of the same coin.

The scheme has continued to win recognition in the Architects Journal, Construction News, a Dezeen longlisting for “a productive and healthy new neighbourhood,” which build on BREEAM Excellent across the entire development. Numerous awards which are testament to the complimentary cogs in the machine which have worked well together, and I see the completion today as another signal: I am hungry to find the next project to continue working for the benefit of the city with U&I into the future to help us unlock complex, tricky sites and continue to win jobs, apprenticeships, opportunities and homes for Brighton & Hove.

I am thrilled that today we open a sign of new hope in the city and affirm that our city is a place which looks to the future with confidence.

So, if we follow Aristotle’s argument that the ‘power of place’ is ‘remarkable’, what we have in Circus Street, is a remarkable place.

Read more on the Brighton Argus, Sussex Live and the Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership.