Architectural Case Study Police Substation

Case study: Harrogate Police Station

Posted on in Heritage and conservation, Uncategorized

At seven architecture, our specialist team of conservation architects has been involved in a range of fascinating projects of varying degrees of size, complexity and sensitivity. But the basic principles when approaching a project involving a historic building remain the same.

The process should always begin with an understanding of the different development phases of the site, and the significance of each phase’s contribution to the community and the social context. Unravelling the layers of a building’s evolution and assessing how each one impacts on the building’s significance is one of the keys to giving the site a successful new lease of life.

The next step is to develop a use and scheme that enhances the building’s significance. Not only does our highly skilled work on heritage sites protect the important historic elements and retain the site’s significance within its setting, but it should aim to enhance the building and bring it back into meaningful use.

Government policy states that new additions to heritage assets should reflect the nature of their time. It’s about adding another clearly defined stage in the building’s history, rather than creating a pastiche of an existing element. However, traditional materials found within and around the site are vital to inform the palette of the new parts of the building, and to bring it all together.

In this blog, we’ll take a look in more detail at a project which our seven renew team carried out for Harrogate Restoration LLP. It concerned the conversion of the former Harrogate Police Station into new residential accommodation.

Harrogate Police Station

The former Harrogate Police Station site was built in 1931 and developed over time as the needs of the police service changed. Our client wanted to turn the site into residential accommodation, fitting in with the mainly residential surrounding area located on the edge of Harrogate town centre. The site is Grade II listed by Historic England.

The site’s development could be seen in four distinct phases. The first, when it was originally built, included a two storey building with five adjacent police houses. These were identified by English Heritage as a good example of the Queen Anne Revival style, and were therefore of high historical value.

The second phase of development took place in the 1960s, when a new two storey office wing was built at the rear of the site. A two storey addition was also made to part of the original building. This element was of low level significance.

Phase three of the site’s development dates from 1973, when a further two storey extension was added to the north-west corner of the original building, and affected the facades of two of the original police houses. This element was of low architectural and historic value.

The final phase in the 1990s saw two storey infills added to the former yards of two police houses, as well as the construction of a single storey custody block. This was identified as being of low significance.

The area to the rear of the site had been developed in an ad-hoc nature over time, with a utilitarian aesthetic that was insensitive to the setting of the heritage asset.

Internally, the building had been modified to improve functionality but many of the original historical features had been lost in the process. However, some original features remained, including some of high significance such as the main feature stair to the 1930s police station, the main entrance doors to the original police houses and some of the windows.

The original building had provided a focal point for the local community for over 80 years and therefore played an important part in the presence of the site. The building, therefore, had some social significance within the context of Harrogate, and its loss would have had a detrimental impact on the character of the area.

Our aim was to create a high quality restoration and development project that would bring this important site back into meaningful re-use. This would improve both the quality of the local environment and the Conservation Area.

Our approach, therefore, was to take out any additions that weren’t part of the original fabric in order to reinstate the setting of the original building. Internally, partition walls were removed, allowing the original space to be appreciated once more, and any concealed features and details to be revealed.

The restoration of the original buildings is still ongoing and will create 16 apartments and five houses, while a further four new houses will also be built. The site offers a nice mix of residential accommodation, comprising detached, semi-detached and terraced houses, including new build homes.

The transformation will cost £2.5m overall, and we were delighted when the first 12 properties were completed in April this year. To see floorplans and photos of the finished properties visit

This LEED-NC Gold building establishes a new architectural standard for police facilities in Ottawa.

To understand the functional requirements of the Ottawa Police Service employees, HOK’s design team conducted a “day in the life” survey that revealed the everyday activities of police officers in their workplace. Based on these findings, the team made personal safety and security top priorities. A carefully structured security hierarchy separates visitors, media, victims, witnesses and suspects.

The contemporary form and materials complement the surrounding high-tech community. The highly identifiable, double-height entry beacon establishes a welcoming street presence.

The sustainable design elements include abundant natural light, efficient radiant heating and cooling ceiling panels, displacement ventilation using 100 percent outside air, and recycled and locally sourced materials. Energy modeling of the HVAC system and building envelope indicated potential energy savings of 60 percent.

HOK collaborated on the design with Kingston-based Shoalts and Zaback Architects.




41,000 sq. ft. / 3,800 sq. m.




Level of energy savings


Percentage of displacement ventilation coming from outside air

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