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A Landmark Hotel for Doncaster

Chris Hodson for Copper Forum 28/2010

A distinctive new hotel in the centre of Doncaster, an historic town in South Yorkshire in the north of England, is the first UK project to be clad with Luvata's Nordic Green Living pre-patinated copper.

The pivotal site is on the corner of High Fisher Gate and Church Way, and close to the Market Conservation Area. The design - by Cartwright Pickard Architects - is intended as a landmark reconciling two different urban characters: the intimate, small scale of the market Conservation Area contrasting with the larger, broader scale of Church Way with its bigger buildings including the 19th century St George's Church designed by Sir Gilbert Scott (the architect of London's St Pancras International Station).

Reconciling different geometries

The new 140-bed hotel also includes shopping facilities, continuing existing retail uses in High Fisher Gate and introducing them into the potentially high-profile Church Way. The new building recognises the two existing geometries of these streets. Two distinctive blocks follow the existing roads and are linked by a prow-like corner, helping to reconcile the two geometries and creating a distinctive feature on the prominent corner.

The northern block is six storeys high at its West side. Here, a distinctive vertical element sits on the corner of the site, at the base of which is the entrance to the hotel. To the East, and towards the Market, the northern block steps down to three storeys. The southern block is visually five storeys, with the sixth sitting well back from Church Way. This block is lower to maintain a scale in sympathy with St George's Church, and to replicate the height of the eaves of the church. Throughout, vertical emphasis is reinforced by the composition of the fenestration, the expressed structure and projecting bays.

Design freedom with copper

A key element of the building's design is the use of Luvata's Nordic Green Living pre-patinated copper cladding to create an abstract surface made up of horizontally orientated bands of varying heights. Nordic Green Living offers architects unparalleled design freedom and the ability to determine the type and intensity of patina. The factory process can be accurately controlled so that, as well as the solid green patina colour, other intensities of patina flecks can be created revealing some of the dark oxidised background material. On this project, three different intensities - ranging from solid Traditional Nordic Green to a special finish developed to meet the architect's requirements - were used in apparently random combinations, adding richness to the flat facades.

Cartwright Pickard Architects Director Peter Cartwright explains: “We had seen some really good photographs of pre-patinated copper buildings in Finland. We were excited by the potential for 'variegated' copper to add life and real interest to the facades, both in texture and colour. The variation in the copper on the final building had to look quite random but we actually specified the positions of each panel to ensure that the facades met our design and satisfied the local planners - which it certainly did.

Environmentally sound materials

"We believe that this variegated copper gives us a contemporary facade suited to such a prominent site and contrasting well with the adjoining terracotta panels. Sustainability is also very important to us as a practice, including selection of environmentally sound materials. The local planners' design guide led to the use of living, planted roofs and required other materials that will be easy to maintain and improve with age."

The new hotel aims to set a high standard for design and construction, as well as for quality materials - which are particularly important with the building's close proximity to the historic St George's Church.

Project: Premier Inn, Doncaster
Client: Premier Inn
Architects: Cartwright Pickard Architects
Copper Installer: Varla UK
Copper Supplier: Luvata Sales Oy (UK)

Photo 3 copyright Daniel Clements, Cartwright Pickard Architects
Other photos courtesy of Graeme Bell, Luvata.

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