The Upper Orwell Crossings are being sold on the idea that they can, not only relieve traffic congestion, but allow for the redevelopment of the island site into ‘Enterprise Island’ in the hope they can create a technological hub and expand the university as well as provide housing to the south of the island all while keeping existing industry.
The proposed/indicative site plan
No official plans have been drawn up for the site, though a number of indicative proposals have been suggested and economic benefits has been estimated based upon these.
The island site development would be mid-density ranging from 3 – 6 storeys.
This is a simple model of the island site with the island site rendered to show floors. The buildings are exactly where the site plan shows them. The vehicular access bridge and lock bridge are not modelled.
Though a tech hub/uni expansion is very unlikely, and not a single developer has looked at the island site for housing, it is still interesting to wonder what would a tech hub could look like. This is a study based on the limited information provided. I created these images using the images above as reference.
I am just focusing on one building, this building is at the north east corner. The backdrop of the James Hehir building creates a good reference point.
The uni/tech hub would no doubt follow the same style of the existing university buildings of concrete, 2 dull colours of cladding, random fenestration and different window sizes. The images below follow that form and reference the James Hehir building.
The council are hoping for high quality architecture, but even state themselves in their appraisal that such buildings would increase costs due the nature of the site – reclaimed land in a flood risk area, thus foundations and preparatory work would have to be extensive. However, they say that economic benefits factor in the nature of high quality architecture, thus, a balance is needed, the island site will also have Enterprise Zone Status. Though extremely unlikely ever to happen, if the island site was developed into a tech hub, it would be extremely risky to build without any large tenants – and a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality does not work. Look at Princes Street which also has Enterprise Zone Status.
Though it is interesting to speculate, this proposal will most likely never be built. The wet dock idea has been floating around (pardon the pun) for decades and not a single developer has come forward. Only the council are willing to dump money into a project that is doomed from the start.