Bircham Park MSCP
More than just a car park this is a hybrid building that combines two types of apparently contradictory operations: an office and retail building with the utility of a car park building to create a new compact typology.
In S333’s original masterplan for Derriford Hospital’s North-West Quadrant this building forms part of a new entrance and visitor hub. The building delivers services, amenities and secured parking for 600 cars to 11,000 staff, patients and visitors that move through the hospital on a daily basis.
The design brief set out two clear objectives: firstly to remove on-grade, hospital parking currently on the site to release land for further development phases and secondly for the building to improve the patient’s and staff’s arrival experience. The challenge was also to maximize the opportunity for active street frontage, despite the presence of a high-pressure gas main to the west and an existing steep road to the east that seriously restricted the size of the building’s footprint.
The topography with its significant change in levels drove the design and layout. To reduce excavation costs the car park is a ‘scissor section’ that follows the slope. This organization provides dual entrances delivering cars at different levels and subsequently avoiding congestion. The slope is utilised to ‘hide’ 6 storeys of parking in the valley. At the top of the site a more modest 3 storeys of offices, retail, and food and beverage address a new public street leading to the hospital.
Levels are grouped into pairs to address the scale which shift in plan to create walkways, terraces and areas of shelter. A series of ‘landscape’ treatments cover the car park: ivy where the base of the building emerges to the south, a forest-like lattice of powder-coated metal bars and a screen of pine logs.
The natural slope allows level access to different parts of the building. Large-scale graphics, colour and lighting give clear orientation at entry points and around the deep plan. One dominant level extends west to form Outlook Terrace. Directly accessed off of the high street, this terrace forms a sunny public belvedere activated by shops and cafes overlooking Bircham Valley nature reserve and a future park.