Plymouth Armada Way, New Perspectives

Plymouth Armada Way, New Perspectives

A concept proposal for 'Plymouth Better Places' public realm design framework developed in collaboration with Mott MacDonald. Designs introduce a tree planting strategy which exploits the levels, sightlines and perspectives to bring the Hoe ‘closer’ to the Station gateway.


Plymouth City Council


July 2017


Mott MacDonald
Norman Rourke Pryme
Gross Max
Thomas Matthews

From the original post war reconstruction, the Abercrombie plan, the city centre has evolved, some of the original factors underpinning its conception now superseded, and yet the structure that remains has huge power and potential. In developing the new public realm, it will be key to work with the setting, to connect the spaces together, addressing the issues of proportion, scale and activity which make successful streets and places. From the top of Armada Way to the Hoe is a unique sequence of space and the challenge will be to make this journey rich vibrant and enjoyable, such that the new city centre feeds off and into it, and establishing a coherent identity with sufficient variation and interest to make visitors and inhabitants want to stay and return again and again.

Currently the city centre is low density and low footfall. Often it feels the buildings aren’t tall enough or are not able to sustain sufficient activities for the width of the streets. As it is so broken up, with little sense of destination, walking distances seem longer. Through a new city centre residential population, there is huge opportunity to encourage new activities, and the role of the new public realm will be to capitalise on this, while staying true to the essence of original.

To help the existing buildings participate more in the life of the city, the public realm needs to mediate and translate between the scales. Trees create intermediate scale, funnel views and vistas, creating a sense of purpose, or places to stop and gather. The trees also need to work with the lie of the land, the width of the streets and the heights of the buildings, and to create goals and destination through vistas and sightlines

A tree planting scheme for the city might be the starting point for a public realm strategy which seeks to unify, and intensify, through foreshortening perceived distances and interspersing them with activities. The ground plane holds the activities as a rich underlayer, sometimes spilling out from buildings , allowing change and variety, while the trees structure the experience.

Transaction zones create character areas
Foreshortened views create sequence of spaces
Flexible groundscape
1 / 3 Transaction zones create character areas

Armada Way has a huge impact on the city, it is a grand gesture, currently played down and broken up. A sense of destination is missing and the raised planters block routes and make the spaces hard to use. A new approach for Armada Way needs to be strongly integrated with east-west streets to spread activity and foster future development.

By treating it singularly, this also allows the cross streets, Royal Parade, New George Street, Cornwall Street and Mayflower Street to take on their own character and celebrate their differences, such that the crossings become differentiating events up and down Armada Way.


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