The Gap

Inspired by the nautical history of the inland port, we have transformed an unloved vacant site into a unique public space within the heart of Wisbech High Street.

Our aspiration was to reimagine this site and give it a new purpose, while capturing the views of the surrounding area. The challenge was to create a space that is uplifting and changes people’s perception of what is currently a local eyesore.

A unique all year round public space
A unique all year round public space
An unloved vacant site

No.24 High Street is a vacant site on Wisbech’s historic shopping street located within the heart of a Conservation Area. “The Gap” has existed since the building that housed a butcher’s shop on the site collapsed in the late 1980’s.

Following two years of development and feasibility work on the High Street, Fenland District Council was awarded Townscape Heritage funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund in July 2016. The Lottery’s support will contribute towards the cost of delivering the restoration of a number of buildings on Wisbech High Street and the project at No 24 High Street.

A derelict site in the middle of the Townscape Heritage area
Detrimental to the local character

Dallas-Pierce-Quintero was part of the core team that won funding from the HLF for the project. In order to develop ideas for 24 High Street, significant research, consultation, analysis and design development was undertaken. The success of the overarching Townscape Heritage project relied on a coherent attitude to existing buildings and the careful insertion of contemporary additions.

Early concept sketch
A contemporary addition
Bold and inviting

During the early stages of the project we engaged with the Wisbech Town Council, The Wisbech Society and other local groups to develop a brief for the site. A number of options were developed that were exhibited locally to help steer the design.


Pre-planning application model
Pre-planning application model
Pre-planning application model
A collaborative process
A collaborative process

The tall structure allows access to a viewing platform, whilst maximising the penetration of natural light to the ground floor, creating both an uplifting and exhilarating spatial experience. An open plan public realm offers endless possibilities of how the space can be used all year round by the community, raising the cultural offering and profile of Wisbech.

A narrow site
All year round use
Capturing the views
A flexible space
A community supper club?
Language classes?
A theatrical show?
Community soap box talks?

“Our approach was to create an art installation rather than a building. The brief called for the ‘wow-factor’ and we felt that this would be better achieved by art installation that exploited the possibilities of the temporary nature of the project.”

Jonathan Dallas
Optimum viewing platform height study

Following the granting of HLF funds we continued to work with the community to refine the design and management of the space. The design met the group’s aspiration to create a landmark that signals that Wisbech is changing. It will create a thriving hive of activity in the heart of the wider High Street – a place for exchange and to engage, educating and inspiring local people and visitors.

The character of the proposal comes from a dense mass of ropes that hang from the viewing platform above, whilst the ground floor space has been conceived as one that is open plan, so that it is capable of being used for a variety of events, performances and conversations.

An important inland port
A nautical reference which will inspire local people and visitors
An exhilarating spatial experience
Walking beneath a dense mass of ropes
Sculpting space study

We have acknowledged the past but through the lens of the new. Reflecting on the heritage of Wisbech and reinvigorating it with a forward thinking approach to its identity and character. We want the proposal to have a sense of belonging, whilst offering pride in place and community ownership.

“This scheme will bring the site back into a use that would engage the local community, provide a social and cultural space, and contribute to the High Street’s distinctiveness.”

Historic England

A high quality contemporary design with a modern approach to materials will enhance the neighbouring buildings by creating a counter-point. To flood the interior in natural light we will use twin-wall polycarbonate cladding for both the gable-end cladding and roof covering. The ‘Kristall’ finish to the gable-end cladding will provide a vertical reading of straight lines, whilst the semi-transparent ‘Opal’ finish to the roof covering will offer the effect of a diffused glow. The proposed specification for the hanging ropes will be a natural cotton rope assembly, adding softness to the overall appearance.

Highly textured and tactile finishes.

Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
Fenland District Council