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St Leonard's Place Retail Unit and Public Toilets

​St Leonard's Place Retail Unit and Public Toilets

by Mass Architecture

Client Healthmatic
Awards RIBA Yorkshire Award 2017 and RIBA Yorkshire Small Project of the Year 2017

© Duncan Lomax

The creation of the new facilities presented a challenge for the design team in how to engage with the historic city walls with sensibility and lightness of touch to minimise the impact and distraction towards the original monument. The proposal is sensitive and respecting both in materials, scale and its exposure, without challenging the sensitivities of the Ancient monument.

York, a city renowned for its rich history, has a new addition of a unique space and micro-cell structure that is both blessed in detail and has a an organic nature that grows into this left-over space with minimum imposition, stitching the wounded space of the urban fabric and embracing its new home - like the foliage that has begun to grow on the exposed ruins in the floor of the café, revealing the symbiotic nature where the old and the new exist in respect and unity.

The entrance to the Café is through the existing arch which creates the impression of a theatrical stage set with the translucent glass. As one moves into the café, the carefully controlled detailing, with minimum impact of the copper clad skin and part glazed roof, seems to add in the framing of the views of the ancient monument and exposes the rich history of York in the floor of the café. The high quality envelope, bespoke iconography, signage and the existing iron gates, adapted and restored to match the building, offer a pleasing contrast.

This small but crafted intervention is a mark of what a carefully considered design response can bring in creating a sense of place in the most challenging context. In view of this the Jury felt the project is a worthy winner of the Regional Small project of the year.


Contractor Healthmatic Ltd
Structural Engineer Richard Renier Consulting Civil and Structural Engineer
M&E Engineer Martin Design Associates

© Duncan Lomax
© Duncan Lomax
© Duncan Lomax
© Duncan Lomax
© Duncan Lomax
© Duncan Lomax
© Duncan Lomax
© Duncan Lomax
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