Beacons of Regeneration

In an Age of Fragility.

The project’s premise revolves around the notions of Rise, Resilience and Ruin. Rise being both of Sea Level and Resurgam. Resilience embodying the historical fortitude of Plymouth’s heritage and scars of destruction, alongside a contemporary pandemic’s aftermath and the need for readiness. The notion of Ruin correlating to Millbay’s socioeconomic struggles, the death of the high street, and the deprivation of its citizens.

The Age of Fragility

The framework utilises the historical remnants of an industrial age: the hoists, joists and doors to nowhere. These features weave through the
masterplan into individual projects, aiming to lift and unite the voices of an unheard populus. With individual projects aligning to the response of the deprived area of Millbay. This is further portrayed through what we have named the beacons of dereliction which are landmarks around the site. The key beacons that we picked up on where the Duke of Cornwall Hotel, the Pavilions and Gaumont Palace Theatre which have been prioritised as main elements in this masterplan, standing proud in the skyline above the derelict and decaying structures below.


Project Aims
Economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in response to Plymouth City Council’s RESURGAM agenda


PCC, Shelter, Nudge Community

June 2021

Design (RIBA stage 3)

The Beacons of Regeneration

Union Street was designed in the early 1800s by John Foulston. The boulevard was aimed at connecting the three separate towns of Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport, and remains the longest and straightest street in Plymouth.

During the 1800s, it was an affluent street with Foulston’s well detailed façades being attractive to upper classes. The street grew in popularity however, attracting greater numbers of visitors – notably Naval officers who would frequent the many pubs upon their trips ashore when moored in Devonport dock, giving the area its recognition as the ‘servicemen’s playground’. The popularity of live entertainment through theatre performances and advancement of technology leading to cinemas opening, this supported further growth of visitor numbers during the early 1900s. By 1978, it was lively throughout the night time at the 30+ pubs along the strip, and 100 pubs within 100 yards either side of Union Street.

In the late 70s, police began to intervene more often with fights and violent behaviour becoming a norm on the
street, and it gaining an international reputation as Plymouth’s red light district. Media crews including the BBC
would be sent to report on the social disturbances. Venues had licenses removed and many began to close.

While there are a few licensed premises operational today, most are shut down, with theatres and entertainment
venues boarded up and left to decay. Amongst the dereliction and newer properties interspersed, these prominent
structures of historic value stand strong, tall and proud above the surrounding buildings

Before the Flood

After the flood

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