Winter Gardens

Bournemouth, Dorset


BrightSpace Architects, working with Bournemouth Development Company (BDC), have proposed a £100 million mixed-use scheme for the Winter Gardens, the largest of its kind in the seaside town’s history. The plan is to rejuvenate this important, 1.98 hectare, town centre site that has been underutilised since the demolition of the existing concert hall in 2006. 

The proposals will bring to the town centre new restaurants, premium retail accommodation, new public spaces, a children’s outdoor play facility and over 4,000 square meters of dedicated leisure space. Plans include 352 high-quality homes to meet the demands for high-quality town centre living, consisting of one, two and three-bed apartments as well as luxury penthouses; with stunning views towards Poole Harbour and the Jurassic Coast. 

The existing 225 public parking spaces will be re-provided in a new below-ground car park, discretely located under a landscaped podium, in addition to the 369 dedicated spaces for residents and visitors. The residences are accommodated within four slender multi-storey buildings of varying heights, set amidst considerable landscaped grounds that provide leisure, recreation and residential amenity.



Location Bournemouth, Dorset
Sectors Residential & Mixed Use, Case Study
Client Bournemouth Development Company
Work Stages 0-7
Contract value £100m
Status Detail Design
Consultants Savills, Fabrik, Hoare Lea, Calcinotto, Mayer Brown, Ridge, AECOM
BrightSpace Team Jonathan Taylor,   Dave Evans

Key facts

  • 352 Apartments, ranging from 1 bedroom flats to 3 bedroom penthouses
  • 581 parking spaces in a 4 storey basement car park, with a further 13 surface parking spaces
  • 4 apartment blocks up to 15 storeys tall above a landscaped podium
  • Enhanced public gardens, landscaped street frontage and new Piazza
  • Landscaped private gardens for residents on the podium above the parking structure
  • Mixed uses include over 4000sqm of leisure, 1000sqm Convenience Store and 1500sqm of restaurants.
  • Engagement process that included architects design panels, CABE and Public Consultation
Winter Gardens Piazza Bournemouth BrightSpace v2

Landscape Realm

Regeneration of the town with high-quality public realm, energised with appropriate uses.

The proposals are set within the neighbouring developments of the Hilton Hotel and BH2, and fronting Exeter Road, will be a new and generously-sized public piazza. This new public space, with terraced lawns, fountains and seating, will provide residents and visitors with a high quality attractive, multi-functional place, in which to enjoy anything from lunch to larger attractions - such as the Bournemouth Air Show and Bournemouth Wheels festivals. The new leisure uses targeting family and wet weather entertainment, front this new area of public realm. 

The Exeter Road frontage provides for generous outdoor landscaped dining spaces fronting the proposed restaurants together with new cycle paths and tree-lined pedestrian route. The new piazza and wide site frontage will together deliver a major part of the Town Council’s vision for the creation of a ‘Grand Garden Walk’, a circular route that loops around Bournemouth’s historic lower gardens and connects the seafront Pier Approach to the town’s central square.

511A Overall Podium Plan
Landscape piazza
Model v5
The 3 largest buildings each comprise a lower main body, the majority of which lie below the town’s skyline, and upper storeys which reduce in length as the buildings rise, creating dynamic, sail-like silhouettes, the tops of which enliven the townscape

Townscape Modelling

Maximising site efficiency by challenging tall building policy: Planning Policy = 6 Storey - Design Proposal = 15 Storey 

Central to the design of the proposals was the careful sculpting and modelling of the four buildings in order to balance significant areas of high-quality public realm, green space and private amenity space, with development volume required to deliver a commercially-viable scheme, befitting Bournemouth Council’s ‘Town Centre Vision’. 

The building footprints and forms that arose from our extensive 3-dimensional townscape studies comprise of four relatively small footprint buildings, the three largest of which being orientated on a broadly north-south axis to facilitate generous sunlit landscaped spaces, to frame vistas and minimise visual impact upon neighbouring development. The analysis supports a composition of taller buildings within the centre of the site set behind the lower foreground buildings; and the provision of a landmark building on the Priory Hill roundabout. 

Mixed-Use 360 Degree Development

The mixed-use functions have been arranged to front onto Exeter Road and the proposed piazza with the restaurants and leisure entrances providing active frontages to these areas. The first-floor walkway provides access to the upper deck of leisure space and provides an elevated, public walkway along Exeter Road and the piazza, through to the linear park. 

The Leisure box projecting out into the park provides a clear relationship with the proposed linear gardens and the opportunity for usable external space to the leisure functions. A clear distinction between public and private areas has been achieved through level changes with heavily planted “green transitions” in-between. 

All private residential functions are set back within the site or sit above the mixed-use functions to provide a level of privacy away from public areas.

Axo option 1 v2
Phasing GIF

Topography & Parking

The scheme has a 4 storey car park that is almost completely hidden by the natural bowl of the site, mixed uses and landscape features.

The Winter Gardens site sits within a natural bowl with steeply-sloping and heavily treed banks to the north, west and southern sides. The majority of these mature and attractive trees are retained and worked into an extensive overall multi-level landscape scheme together with enhancements to the linear garden and existing Public Right of Way along the northern edge. 

The proposed parking provision is within the 4 storey basement car park, with the remainder positioned under the stilted Block D. The existing number of public car parking spaces have been re-provided, accessed off Exeter Road, while the residential parking is accessed from the quieter Cranborne Road. The majority of the mixed uses are serviced via a service yard in the basement structure within the main body of the site, screened from the public realm and residential amenity spaces.

Winter Gardens Bournemouth BrightSpace v3
top of B V2 v2

The Architecture

The form and aesthetics of the Winter Gardens proposal responds to Bournemouth’s seaside Art Deco heritage, with long, curvilinear balconies with radiused ends, sculptural white rendered facades, elements of which snake into and out of the façade planes to create private balconies and terraces.

The tripartite stone facades, of an urban high street aesthetic, draw on references to the historic perimeter block facades to Bournemouth’s town square. High points of the buildings are elevated in glass and project out and above the dynamic rendered ‘sails’, giving a lightweight feel to the slender pinnacles. 

Substantial planting around the terraced edges reinforces the concept of vertical landscaped buildings emerging up from the gardens below. This planting serves to soften the dynamic form of the buildings but also responds to a reoccurring characteristic in and around Bournemouth of buildings set against and within a rising verdant landscape.

Block A - Public Frontage

Block A Sketch
Block A exploded axo v3

Block A is a glazed fronted building that sits on a heavy stone plinth at the front of the site beside the public realm. It comprises of a mix of different uses, the architecture looks to respond to aid legibility, this has led to a variety of façade treatments in different areas.

Long, white render, curvilinear, ‘clip-on’ balconies give a strong horizontal emphasis with vertical breaks splitting into 3 sections. The recessive appearance of the façade is enhanced by the contrasting white balconies against glazing and dark cladding. This unifies the building and street frontage with a consistent and sculptural form.

The balconies stop short of the heavy stone plinth creating the effect of a residential block floating above the commercial base. At either end of the sweeping balconies sit stone facades that appear more formal and address the public piazza and entrance lobbies facing Priory Road. These follow contextual themes found in the town centre, responding to an urban high street aesthetic and provide a vertical emphasis to contrast with the horizontal balconies.

Winter Gardens Block A Tower BrightSpace Architects

Block B & C - Sail Towers

Block B and C Sketch
BrightSpace Winter Gardens Bournemouth 09

These sail-like towers dramatically project out from and above the landscaped foreground and from behind Block A and existing surrounding built context.

The render elements provide the opportunity for recessed and sculptural balconies. Prominent key corners of the building facades are radiused to create dynamic prows. Internal corners and points of changing direction on render elements follow this curvilinear theme. Substantial planting around the edges of the stepped terraces softens the stepped form.

Where the building acts as a backdrop to natural planted areas, whether the ground floor gardens, stepped roof terraces or linear park, large areas of timber cladding are used to soften and texturise. The end of the blocks step over the podium wall to ground themselves and connect to the linear park.

BrightSpace Winter Gardens Bournemouth 03 v3

Block D - The Chine

Block D v2
Block D Concept diagram

The stilted apartments sit nestled within a wooded enclave at the rear of the site, facing down the axis of the linear gardens, and provides a visual focal point at the end of this public space. 

Block D’s massing reads as three intersecting forms. A rendered element picks up the theme of the other blocks whilst interlocking and grounding the two darker elements. The building sits on stilts to allow for parking underneath and is accessed via flanking boardwalks contributing to the idea of a building sitting within the trees.

View Block D 2 V2 v2

Optimising Through Technology

Here at BSA, we are firm believers in pushing the use of innovative and emerging technologies to aid in the design and delivery of our work.


3D tools were used from the very beginning of the project to help inform design proposals. A ‘Photogrammetric Data Capture’ was carried out to produce an accurate 3D model of the whole of Bournemouth Town Centre area, showing topography, existing buildings and trees. Using this 3D context we were able, from the very initial concepts to the development of detailed proposals, to analyse, test and audit the design process in our endeavours to create the best possible solution for this site. 

Bournemouth Townscape Report 11
WG model PNG v3

The Power of 3D

3D Printing

While we work a lot with digital models throughout the lifespan of a project, we also understand the value of physical models in providing a user-friendly and readily understandable experience. A 3D printed physical model was used as a base for card development models and taken to design team meetings, planning meetings and the Public Consultation.

CGI & Drones

We produce CGI visuals by rendering the Revit model and superimposing onto site photographs. Drones were used to allow us to capture up to date, high quality, aerial imagery to aid in the design process and provide the context for visualisations.


2D Drawings

2D Planning drawings from the same 3D model, guaranteeing coherent drawing package that matches the 3D graphics. Having a model with a high level of detail by the pre-planning stage allows us to clarify and resolve the architecture in preparation for delivery. 

Virtual Reality

Using the Revit software we are able to produce Virtual Reality exports from key views. This can be viewed on a monitor, where the image can be rotated 360 degrees or in a VR headset to give an immersive experience of what the scheme will look like from a particular location. Please click the interactive image below where you can immerse yourself in a full virtual reality experience.

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