Reading Prison (a Grade II listed building) is located in the heart of Reading city, within walking distance to the main rail station and CBD. Most contextually important is the site’s situation in relation to the old Reading Abbey ruins and its own storied heritage as place of detention. The primary objective of the proposed scheme is to preserve and ultimately exhibit the site’s archaeological, cultural and heritage assets. Through this the aim is to create a new quarter of Central Reading, one that draws in visitors by delivering a plethora of exhibits and activities focused on the site’s history and cultural heritage.

The site’s proposed functionality is twofold, to revitalise the old goal in a means conducive to its historic value and to create supporting uses along the site’s perimeter.

The Prison’s primary function will be the hosting of exhibitions and cultural activities given its heritage value. The residual space within the Prison has been devoted to generating the sustainable income needed to offset surplus running costs. This space is significant enough to accommodate a 100 key hotel or student accommodation of approximately 130 rooms.

Introducing a connection from the site to the River Kennet along with associated café activities along and through the retained historic wall at Chestnut Walk level. By doing so, the river’s edge at this point can be activated, again drawing in visitors to the site and helping to invigorate the pedestrian link connecting the centre of town to the new development at Huntley Wharf.

The new build element needs to be delivered with the least disruption to the site’s archaeological and heritage assets. To this end, a new build residential scheme (approx. 97 apartments) has been carefully designed so that it sits predominantly along the north and eastern boundaries of the site. Resting where possible on raft foundations to minimise below-ground disturbance, these buildings have been designed to complement and frame the Prison without undermining the hierarchy that currently exists.

Proposal 2018
Client Pi Developments
New Build Gross Internal Area 7 472sqm
New Build Gross External Area 12 596sqm