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circus street

a bespoke new quarter – for brighton and about brighton

Inspired by Brighton’s rich mix of people, culture and creativity, Circus Street is a unique and ambitious mixed-use development, within this regeneration of a derelict area which previously housed a fruit and vegetable market.

Residential and commercial buildings are set within a masterplan which includes generous public realm, events space, green space and landscaping, with a new performance centre for South East Dance sitting at the heart of the scheme.

This bespoke new quarter benchmarks enlightened urban development to create a sustainable and productive new neighbourhood, and a catalyst for future innovation and creativity.

Located within walking distance of the city centre, railway station and seafront with strong visual links to Grand Parade, Circus Street presented a fantastic opportunity to knit a new development into the existing fabric of the city and to improve connectivity with the surrounding area.






  • 114 apartments for private rent
  • 28 affordable homes
  • 450 student rooms
  • 2,787m2 office
  • 1,300m2 dance space
  • 870m2 retail

Contract value:

£80 million




Won: 2022 AJ100 Building of the Year, 2022 Sussex Heritage and 2021 World Architecture News
Shortlisted: 2022 BCO and Architects’ Journal

a coherent, accessible and welcoming scheme which puts people first

Working closely with developers U+I, shedkm masterplanned Circus Street, designing each plot from inception and acting as design guardian through to the project’s completion in November 2021. We wanted to create a development that felt as if it had emerged organically from Brighton rather than having been imposed on it, and were inspired by the historic origins of the Brighton Lanes to create a more intimate, permeable and human-scaled place. We prioritised variety, contrast and detail to create a rich yet coherent visual mix. Materials, colours, fenestration size, scales, massing and proportions have all been integrated to create a scheme which would inspire those living and working there and contribute to a continuously evolving neighbourhood.

a new housing typology for brighton

Circus Street offers sustainable city-centre living in Brighton with a mix of private residential, affordable and student apartments all designed around two green urban squares. The residential component is positioned to the north west portion of the site, with a corner building which acts as a gateway to the scheme and a symbol of the area’s regeneration. We created an apartment typology inspired by the scale and grain of Brighton’s most loved residential streets – its grand Regency townhouses and mansion blocks, and the smaller terraced streets that line the hillsides. Tall, slender ‘townhouse apartments’ are scaled to the proportions of those on Grand Parade and articulated with twin bay balconies, strong gable forms and pitch roofs. The cluster of zinc pitched roofs create a visible elevation, with subtle variations in colour, and which can be read alongside the tiled roofs of Grand Parade.

a creative workspace with a sea view

Circus Street delivers a highly flexible, elegant office building with 30,000ft2 of floorspace suitable for corporate tenants and with affordable managed workspace. The top floor features spectacular sea views and has been conceived as a self-contained, creative space adaptable for use by a single tenant. Retail units at ground floor are designed to activate facades and contribute to a busy and vibrant streetscape.

Located at a prominent junction, the office building offered an opportunity to design a landmark building, strengthening the overall urban composition whilst sensitively responding to context. The building’s massing references the surrounding grand historic townhouses with a set-back top floor to create a distinctive roof profile.

a cultural heart celebrates performance and community

A new building designed in close collaboration with South East Dance sits at the centre of Circus Street, giving the development a cultural heart and signalling its commitment to people and community. Combined with adjacent café and retail spaces at ground floor, the building will contribute to a vibrant neighbourhood, lively with activity by day and night.

This highly functional building includes a main studio space, bleacher seating, research and community studio, and an office. The main dance studio and community space are connected by a large expanse of opening glazing, and connect in turn to a new public space providing opportunities for outdoor performance. The feature escape stair, designed as a dynamic, sculptural element that corkscrews down the height of the building to land in Circus Square, references the movement of dance, and has quickly become emblematic of the playful overall identity of Circus Street.

A bold, cube-like geometry is clad in distinctive galvanised steel panels which will weather over time in Brighton’s seaside atmosphere to create a dynamic changing façade. The building culminates in an attractive green roof, enhancing biodiversity. Rooftop photovoltaics contribute to the buildings green credentials.

high quality student accommodation

Circus Street provides much-needed, high quality student accommodation for up to 450 students in the heart of the city. Designed to address student needs for both privacy and social connectivity, accommodation is arranged over four distinct blocks to foster smaller individual student communities. Particular consideration has been given to the ground floor, with attractive landscaping, and public space with external seating between buildings.

Within each block, cluster planning works to locate more public, communal areas at primary elevations, with private rooms located to flank elevations. All accommodation has been designed to a high environmental standard with measures including photovoltaic panels, and green roof systems to encourage biodiversity.