Filling the Gap at 24
Background to No 24
Wisbech High Street is characterised by a collection of shop buildings from different architectural periods, however the most eye-catching part of the street is the absence of a building at no. 24. Having collapsed 30 years ago, No. 24 has become a familiar sight on the High Street and an opportunity has now presented itself to bring this site back to life.
At the beginning of 2014 a Consultative Group was set up to guide and inform the development of the bid and in particular designs for the “gap site” at No. 24 High Street. Working closely with the architects Dallas- Pierce-Quintero (D-P-Q), plans for developing an area for the public to use and enjoy are well underway and a planning application was submitted in December 2017.
The design is a simple structure supporting a sheltered viewing platform at high level.
Under the HLF scheme and due to a complicated legal background, it will not be possible to re-build permanent structure in the gap site. Therefore, it has been proposed that the project should be an art installation within ‘the Gap’ as opposed to a structure that resembled a building. The Brief, which was created in consultation with the community, called for a design with ‘wow-factor’ and this would be harder to achieve with a structure that resembled a traditional building.
At ground level the project will create a space for the community and schools to use, whether it be for theatrical or musical performances, for pop-up workshops or exhibitions or for groups to book for special events – the use of the ground floor space will be driven by the demands and needs of the community.
The viewing platform will be open at to the public and managed by volunteers from local community groups. The viewing platform set at an approximate height of 12.5m will provide visitors with a unique opportunity to appreciate views across the towns historic town and beyond.
The character of the proposal comes from strips or ropes that hang from the viewing platform above. All at different lengths, these form a sculptural ceiling to the event space at ground level that undulates, rises and falls, creating a truly unique space in Wisbech.
The D-P-Q design allows access to a viewing platform, whilst maintaining a gap either side of the platform which maximises the penetration of natural light to the ground floor level, and creates both an uplifting and exhilarating spatial experience.
The cantilevered section also allows the art installation to have an external presence, hovering above a splash of colour on the floor which extends beyond the building line and onto the pavement.