The Hanging Gardens of Shirehall? Architect's urban living proposal for council HQ

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the seven wonders of the world... now we could have the Hanging Gardens of Shirehall.

Shirehall in Shrewsbury
Shirehall in Shrewsbury

An architect has come up with an urban living concept which could see the iconic building transformed into more than 200 homes with sprawling plant life adorning its sides.

The DarwinLiving concept is the brainchild of James Gollins, who believes it could address the growing need for housing while giving a more aesthetically pleasing solution to a traditional tower block.

Shropshire Council plans to leave the building and sell it off.

Leader Peter Nutting described is as a "big, ugly lump of concrete" and said the council need to move on from it at a meeting to discuss halting renovation work recently, though there are people who wish to keep the building, including the newly-formed Save Our Shirehall campaign group.

Mr Gollins said: "Whether one appreciates or despises the existing Shirehall it is a building of character on a prominent and well connected site. It should not be simply cast aside be replaced with characterless low level housing.

"I would like to propose a compromise that preserves an important element of the existing building and combines it with what could be an important architectural statement worthy of Shrewsbury into the future while giving a nod to its illustrious and forward thinking past.

"For sometime I have been developing an urban concept called DarwinLiving. It is a carbon neutral, ecologically balanced living building concept that works to mitigate the effects of urban sprawl and the toxic emissions of commuting. It is a garden ‘village in the sky’ creating a vertical community on a space saving footprint.

"My suggestion is to develop along the lines suggested by this concept on the Shirehall building and car park site, retaining the distinctive ‘ mushroom’ as the entrance. I believe that this could provide 200-plus homes in various configurations. It could include an underground flood free carpark with recharging and ‘rentavehicle’ facilities for residents - along with other features."

Shropshire Council recently defended its decision to apply for a "certificate of immunity" to Historic England for the Shirehall building. If successful, it would mean that Shirehall could not become a listed building, and would be more attractive to potential buyers who would have more scope to implement their own plans.

Save Our Shirehall described the application as ‘opaque at best and invisible at worst’.

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