Our transformative masterplanning of this historic prison site into 188 high-quality residential accommodation and community facilities is based on a thorough understanding of the listed structures and the surrounding townscape.

Closed in 2013 by the Ministry of Justice, the prison has a long and rich history. While the majority of its buildings are late Victorian, the listed gatehouse dates from the late 18th century. It is located on a Norman castle site and has historic links to Thomas Hardy.

Purcell’s principal challenge was to maximise development opportunities of the site and existing buildings, whilst respecting the value and character of the existing, historic fabric. In addition, our aim was to create a sense of place, space and openness within the historic context of enclosure and containment as well as respond to the wider urban and civic context of Dorchester.

By carefully studying the existing buildings, the site and the surrounding grain, the team developed a scheme that retained and refurbished the existing buildings that held historic value and formed a contemporary interpretation of the local, traditional vernacular through the design of new build elements within the site. The scheme locates vehicular parking, refuse storage and bicycle parking beneath podia, creating generous shared, landscaped amenity space for residents and the public.