Poole Quays Forum

Reimagining the Waterfront


Alongside other urban designers, planners and architects, the team at ECA facilitated a public Design Workshop on behalf of Poole Quays Forum. A crash-course on what makes a good place, the event challenged the notion of what defines good development, and explored current issues and opportunities for the historic south-coast quayside.

Residents from Poole and the wider areas discussed the importance of social and environmental sustainability and how high-quality architecture and considered landscaping can provide the space for this. After brainstorming about what gives Poole its soul, we daydreamed about other great places across the UK and beyond, where natural harbours and urban forms work in harmony.

Fantasies aside, we set to task in particular on a key area of brownfield land in the heart of Poole, lining the waters edge. With wooden cubes for towers and bits of green fluff for trees, a variety of three-dimensional masterplans began to emerge from within the hosting room at the RNLI…

…3 hours later…


Interweave old and new by continuing street patterns of Poole Old Town. Create purposeful nodes out of meaningful retail units and eateries - thriving squares and piazzas. Continue the historic stretches of cycle and pedestrian routes that connect wider conurbation; a waterside through-route with informal access into the water. The existing Poole Amateur Rowing Club could major as a future inclusive social hub with cafes/changing facilities, and become a point of orientation; where residents and tourists collide!


Take precedent from the water city that is Copenhagen; make use of a floating swimming pool to encourage social and environmental interaction. Bring useful green space into the landscape with innovative, all-age outdoor playgrounds. Encourage the capture of the natural elements; play with the water, capture the sunlight and disperse the winds! Make use of this capture with renewable energy harnessing technology; be sustainable! Let the blue and green landscapes dominate the site; separate development and integrate people.


Look to Borneo-Sporenburg in Amsterdam - locals can select their own unique architect and design to create bespoke and characteristic buildings. Encourage material variety and local distinctiveness. Promote pedestrian access and way-finding from the eastern side of poole - gateway buildings/landscape into the development should encourage landmark recognition. Design spaces formal enough for adaptation, informal enough for place-recognition; providing individual identities to courtyards/roads and homes.Tall gateway buildings to the north and south ends of the site; lining the old and new bridge gateways. Soft development to the eastern edge, enhancing the old town; strong development to the western edge, complimenting the heritage of the quayside.


Reflect historic landmarks of the shoreline and provide towered ‘beacons’ to the southern edge; ritualistic of the traditional lighthouse. Keep the Pub! A nod to times gone by. Materiality should be distinctive, complimentary to valued heritage of poole, sustainable and locally sourced. Invite renewable energy incentives, and minimised carbon footprints.


Build over the water! Stilts and platforms accessed from the shore; apartments/homes should be designed in such a way that they are tempered to maximise sunlight capture and views out into Poole Harbour.

This site has the opportunity to be a pioneer for poole, embracing the challenges of the 21st century and acting as an internationally valued precedent of waterside development. Watch this space!