Depot has been shortlisted for a Royal Institute of British Architects South East Regional Award. It is one of 14 projects shortlisted in the region, from 44 entries.
James Robinson, RIBA Regional Director said of the shortlist: “We are very lucky to have such outstanding buildings on the shortlist this year. It’s been a good year. The standard and variety of the entries is very high; from small private houses to the larger public and institutional buildings. The shortlist also demonstrates the fantastic amount of design talent in and around the regions, in practices both large and small, local and working nationally or indeed, internationally.
“The region has an amazing architectural heritage with buildings that have the capacity to amaze, inspire and improve our quality of life. This year’s RIBA Awards shortlist and the winners we are about to celebrate, show that they are still being built.”
The radical approach of Depot architects Burrell Foley Fischer was to retain the existing warehouse building and insert the three new screens within it. A new glazed foyer houses the box office, café/bar, restaurant, and film education and training facilities, giving a contemporary setting with the former industrial building as a visible backdrop. Reflecting the historic site layout of orchards and meadows, the former tarmac’ed service yard is landscaped to provide a new public realm. It includes native and local plant species providing seasonal colour and a small orchard and wild flower meadow.
The project aims to make a positive contribution to the South Downs National Park and to respond to its unique and special qualities. It is now a contemporary exemplar of local flint craftsmanship. Because of the typography of Lewes and the South Downs, particular thought was given to the design of the roofscape, which is visible as a fifth elevation, and it features flint paving and a green roof planted with chalk loving plants, all found in the SDNP. There was extensive consultation with local access groups to ensure a welcoming and accessible facility. Proximity to the station makes it accessible to visitors from the wider district.
Depot also celebrates local creativity. A permanent display of Stephen Chambers ‘The Big Country’ features in the Gallery, and the acoustic wall panels in the auditoria are digitally printed with a reproduction of animated figures painted on the walls of Julian Bell’s studio. There are facilities for film education and a multi-use Studio. The extensive external landscaping incorporates facilities for outdoor screenings and events.
Depot will shortly be visited by the jury panel, with the winners announced in May.