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    Competition: Fort Albert

    Architecture Initiative has been shortlisted for the design of a new residential development adjacent to Fort Albert on the Isle of Wight.

    The competition called for an innovative proposal that would respond sensitively to the heritage site and context.

    We proposed a considered response to celebrate the site’s prominent location and context. The site is currently a flat artificial island harshly protruding from the coast, with the solid mass of Fort Albert at its head. The development proposal gradually steps up the landscape towards the fort with the large horizontal planted terraces emphasising the natural relationship between Fort Victoria Country Park and the historic Fort.

    Fort Albert is a prominent landmark and maintaining the Fort’s visibility is critical to the success of the scheme. The stepped form combined with the vegetated terraces will provide a continuation of landscape, emphasising and preserving the Fort’s presence on the headland.

    The building has been configured by grouping the bedrooms and ancillary accommodation, efficiently stacked in a slender block which is integrated with the form of the fort, minimising the mass of the building against the skyline and maintaining the critical long-range views of the fort from the mainland.

    The large living spaces at each floor level are more transparent and closely relate to the horizontal external decks, extending out in three directions working with the site orientation, maximising sunlight and views out. Their orientation affords long-range views to the north and south as well as across the Solent to the west.

    The geometry of Fort Albert is used to derive a complementary grid, which when overlaid on the site forms the basis of the proposed intervention of both landscape and built form.

    The wild natural topography of Fort Victoria Country Park is reflected in the design. The stepped horizontal terrace elements contrast the solid mass of the Fort, providing complete isolation between apartments. They are planted to reflect the surrounding context, drawing the landscaping into the site from the east and following the grid of the site, creating a synergy of natural and man-made landscape allowing the development to seamlessly become part of the context when view from the bays to the north or south of the Fort.

    Fort Albert Shortlist: Architects Journal