Arlosh Group Offices

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The Client

Arlosh is a company set up by Tony & Julie Dabinett with Mark Hillman to exploit a niche market to give engineering and graphic support to the water industry. Engineers by profession and an interest in computer graphics technology has resulted in specialised skills being developed in large format encapsulated, CAD presentation and technical manuals for Water Authority infrastructure.

The Site

The company name is derived from Tony and Julie’s home, Arlosh house which accommodated the launch of the business and its initial growth. Phoenix Architects were contacted when staff numbers had expanded to occupy more than half the property. The Practice assisted in vetting a number of potential sites in Wigton, a town central to Cumbria and convenient for one of Arlosh’s principal clients North West Water. There were two main constraints to accommodate. Wigton is a small strictly confined from expansion by the Allerdale Local Plan and intensively developed principally during the 19th Century. Few sites suitable for a newbuild scheme were available so with the site purchase budget limited to £50,000 and a construction budget of £100,000 a conversion project appeared the most appropriate. A redundant cinema and an old chapel were shortlisted and sketch schemes prepared for both with the old chapel being the cheapest to purchase and considered to offer the greatest potential. The chapel was, however, in poor condition and its external appearance was a well known eyesore.

Planning Issues

The planning sensitivity of the Town Conservation Area and the constraint of limited car parking potential were overcome with a design that enhanced and regenerated the townscape of Union Street and a well argued point that the majority of the 20 employees were Town residents and could walk to work.


The site was land locked on both sides by derelict ground in separate ownership with the only point of access being a small door in the narrow gable frontage to Union Street. As part of its feasibility

report the Practice advised that the accommodation, whilst being large enough, could not be satisfactorily developed without control of at least one of the adjacent sites. The structural condition

of the site wall to the east indicated that access to, and preferably ownership of, the land to the east was essential. Once acquired the Practice proceeded with designs for a new entrance central to the

repaired east wall using a continuation of the roof slope to buttress the structure, break-up the horizontal mass, admit a pool of valuable daylight and form a natural focus point. Windows were kept small, both for security and to be in keeping with a fusion of quasi,

ecclesiastical and contemporary aesthetics. The appeal of the full height chapel space was valued, so although an intermediate floor would be required to meet area requirements, full height views and spaces were retained as an essential element of the conversion. The effect gives both floor areas a studio feel whilst aiding internal communication. Low energy anti-glare lighting for computer work was successfully integrated into plaster baffles, washing walls and roofscape.



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