The Solent is a famous stretch of water separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England.
The Solent is a major shipping route for passengers, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually.
The area is of great ecological and landscape importance, particularly because of the coastal and estuarine habitats along the edge of the Solent. Much of its coastline is designated as a Special Area of Conservation. It is bordered by and forms a part of the character of a number of nationally important protected landscapes including the New Forest National Park, and the Isle of Wight AONB.
The Solent is surrounded by landmarks, such as the Victorian Forts and famous lighthouses, but more recently new towers and chimneys. Most well known is the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. These form an important part of the Solent landscape.
In Portsmouth, the Spinnaker Tower is a new landmark signalling the entrance to the Eastern Solent.
The Western Solent, being less populated, with the small town of Lymington and the village Yarmouth, on the island, are the first ports of call when approaching from the west.
Our competition idea is to provide a landmark tower, marking the Western Approach to the Solent, as a reciprocal to the Spinnaker Tower, but at a scale that is appropriate to this location.
The proposed tower sits on a concrete base, which draws direct inspiration from Fort Albert, but also Hurst Castle on the mainland opposite.
The site is very exposed and calls for a robustness in design and in the choice of materials. The current fort is in brick and concrete, and built on a base that is edged with sheet piles that have a lovely rusty patina.
The horizontal element of our design is a 3-storey fair-faced concrete volume with apartments of various sizes and aspects of the Solent.
The materiality of the tower is inspired by the colour of the old brick and the rusty steel, and we propose a CorTen weathering steel cladding. In terms of both design and materiality we wanted to create permanence and robustness that would see this scheme form a new and worthy addition to the “Towers of the Solent.”
The competition was done in collaboration with Henry Goss Architects.
- Location − Isle of Wight, UK