Text description provided by the architects. Pool Meadow is a refurbishment of a tired 1990s bus station, transforming it into a vibrant gateway to Coventry for UK City of Culture 2021 and beyond. The project is a unique hybrid of bus station, conservatory and art gallery, revitalising a once-unloved building in the city through low-cost, high-impact interventions to improve user experience and reduce operational energy. Site-specific artworks, theatrical lighting and generous planting animate key routes through the building, while functional upgrades to public facilities, services, retail units and wayfinding improve user comfort and accessibility.
The main focus of the project is the animation of an existing east-west route through the building to become a promenade. The route, marked at either end by a pair of peculiar faux-classical, steel-framed porticos, has been activated through lighting, colour, art and planting. Dull brick walls have been painted in a pinkish shade of off-white to provide a general brightness and subtle warmth throughout the day, while new low-energy lighting is provided throughout. A 90m-long, site-specific mural by Zoe Power lines the route and celebrates the key workers of Coventry.
At the heart of the building is a toplit atrium which has become a planted conservatory. A space to meet and relax, the conservatory is filled with greenery in two large planted benches. Their curving forms, taken from abstracted maps of local bus routes, encourage dwell time and sociable interactions between users. Large spherical lights suspended from the network of trusses above provide a theatrical quality of light, and can be programmed with the surrounding lighting to offer opportunities for events and installations.
Studio MUTT have worked closely with the existing retail tenants in the building, providing the 11 units with a refreshed graphic identity and new characterful signage. Guidelines for future retail tenants have been designed to protect the overall appearance while encouraging individual expression. Site-wide wayfinding and graphics have also been refreshed to make the site more legible for users, and a new typeface for the building has been designed by Studio MUTT, sampling the skewed lettering of post-war bus blinds found in Coventry’s Transport Museum. Black and white 2Tone toilet facilities pick up on Coventry’s diverse and musical identity, using 2 shades of cost-effective wall tiles to create flat patterns and supergraphics throughout.
Pool Meadow is a new gallery for Coventry. Creative Giants, visual arts consultants, worked alongside Studio MUTT and the client team to develop a series of site-specific artworks, pairing emerging local artists with more established artists from further afield. Brighton-based Carrie Reichardt has worked with local schools to develop a large mosaic piece at the building’s south entrance, providing the backdrop for a new piece of public realm. Coventry-based artist Julia Snowdin has installed a playful set of bike racks at the north entrance referencing historic bus maps, and emerging local artists HKD Media have provided a lightbox installation to showcase photography of the changing face of the city.