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Residential apartments inspired by industrial heritage


There is no question that Smith’s Dock is a transformative development. The collection of contemporary properties has breathed new life into the former Smith’s Dock shipyard and revitalised the Western end of the North Shields Fish Quay in the process.

The striking architectural design of Fab House, Town House and the Smokehouses has played a large part in the scale of this transformation. By bringing a new style of modern architecture to add to the already rich heritage of the Fish Quay, the new additions to the landscape offer a progressively new aesthetic for the local area.

But what inspired the design of this unique waterfront community? Read on to learn some interesting facts about the design of the Smokehouses from architects SimpsonHaugh and joint venture partners, Places for People and Urban Splash.

Shape and form

There are a number of residential buildings that line the North Shields Fish Quay. Next door to the Smokehouses, the distinctive sloping roof of the Brewery Bond Warehouse was actually one of the inspirations behind the unique shape of both Smokehouses 1 and 2.

The North Shields Fish Quay is a conservation area and architects SimpsonHaugh placed a great deal of emphasis on incorporating the historical buildings which line the waterfront into the final design. Smokehouses 1 and 2 can be viewed as punctuation to the landscape of the waterfront, with Brewery Bond the third building in the collection when viewed from South Shields. The sloping roofline, height and shape of all three buildings share subtle features designed to balance the new with the old and interact positively with one another.

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One of the most distinctive features of the Smokehouses is the striking external material. Clad in red zinc, the colour and style harks back to the strong industrial past of the former Smith’s Dock shipyard. The weathered style is a subtle nod to the history of the area as well as providing a distinctive aesthetic designed to really stand out in the local environment. Zinc cladding is of course a very adaptable material and often used to create architectural shapes that truly make a building unique. However, it is also an extremely tough material designed to withstand even the harshest environment.

Being situated so close to the mouth of the River Tyne and at the forefront of the North East coast, the cladding provides the perfect first line of defence against the famously tough weather conditions of the Quay.

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Through the looking glass

There is no denying that the position of the Smokehouses right on the waterfront offers residents some of the finest riverside views. The floor to ceiling glass that lines two sides of the Smokehouses takes advantage of this. Residents have a front row seat for the beautiful sunrises and sunsets at the Smokehouses, and to witness the everyday comings and goings of the ships on the Tyne. But the glazing offers other benefits in addition to the visual advantages.

The large-scale glass covering either side of the Smokehouses means the building appearance subtly varies throughout the year and day depending on the weather, light and time of day. It also ensures a great deal of natural light flows into the building to ensure private apartments and shared spaces remain bright and welcoming, whatever the time of year.

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Whilst the red zinc cladding on the exterior of the Smokehouses points to the industrial heritage of the wider Smith’s Dock location, the interior of the buildings have also followed suit. The use of exposed concrete and visible pipework throughout the communal areas of the building creates a sense of industrial-style more representative of a conservation project than a new build.

SimpsonHaugh are known for their skills in bringing older buildings back to life to find a new purpose in the modern era. As a new build scheme, the elements that make the interior of the Smokehouses so different are borne out of a wish to deliver character features that match the industrial setting of the former shipyard. With features such as exposed concrete ceilings inside the apartments, SimpsonHaugh have created qualities in a new build apartment building that are contemporary in design but traditional to the industrial heritage of the local area.