Duchy Square Centre for Creativity
Arts and Crafts Centre of Excellence within the heart of Dartmoor National Park
"This building has brought a new sense of freshness to Princetown"
"A wonderful series of spaces, stimulating work within"
For Devon County Council; £1.4m contract value; completed 2009
The Centre of Princetown now has a beautiful art gallery and art workshops that can enjoy the lowest running costs of any art gallery in the country.
The Centre, funded by the South West Regional Development Agency, Government Office South West, Devon County Council and The Duchy of Cornwall, offers advice and support for new creative businesses. It also promotes work from emerging local craft makers and artists. The aim of the project is to regenerate the area by supporting local businesses across several key sectors, including creative industries, farming, food and tourism. It also provides a major tourist attraction, giving local creative practitioners an outlet to promote and sell their work, helping to boost the local economy.
The building houses 17 small workshops and offices, a gallery for arts and crafts and a teaching studio in the heart of the Dartmoor town.
The new building was designed to form a substantial side of The Square in the centre of the Princetown Conservation Area, directly opposite the former Duchy Hotel and High Moorland Visitor Centre. The designs were worked up in conjunction with the local community group, Devon County Council, The Duchy of Cornwall and the Dartmoor National Park Authority and replaced the derelict residential and retail buildings that existed on the site.
The new building had to address many design criteria – the choice of a linear building form helped in many respects. The long façade completes the northeast side of The Square and gives protection to the large pedestrian areas created between the new building and the visitor centre opposite. Setting the building back from the road helped reinforce the feeling of an urban square and made space for the existing tourist businesses down Two Bridges Road and the end of the retail buildings on Tavistock Road to be included as part of The Square. The long low building form, traditional materials, pitched roof and window format respects the surrounding, essentially rural architecture of the town. The building does however make a neighbourly reference with its symmetrical and colonnaded façade to that of the more grand and ornate former Duchy Hotel opposite.
The glazed colonnade at street level is a lively ‘shop window’ for the businesses inside. It forms an internal ‘street’ giving visitor access to the separate workshops and the gallery. Very importantly, it provides inviting protection from the weather, which is known in Princetown for its extremes. Its design is derived from a traditional form of covered arcade or colonnaded street – a Devon Butterwalk – of which there are remaining examples in Totnes, Dartmouth and Plympton, cited by Peter Beacham in ‘Devon Building – An introduction to local traditions’. They formed a place where traders could lay out their wares on the street with protection from the weather overhead.
The new building brings additional life to The Square, and helps reinforce the existing tourist and retail activity at this end of Princetown. It contributes architecturally to a more recognisable urban space and helps form a mini centre for tourism with future economic and cultural possibilities.