The Phoenix, Lewes (Credit: Human Nature with Periscope)

The Phoenix is a sustainable neighbourhood on a former industrial site in Lewes, East Sussex
looks like
Visitor to the Design Festival
The Phoenix is the redevelopment of a 7.9 hectare brownfield site within the South Downs National Park, brought forward by Human Nature, a campaigning development company, working with some of the UK’s leading architects, designers and engineers. It seeks to turn the imperatives of the climate and natural emergencies into opportunities for better design, better placemaking and ultimately healthier and better living. 

Planned to prioritise people over cars, constructed primarily in sustainable timber, powered by renewable energy and designed to encourage a culture of sharing, it represents a new and regenerative way to make a place, build a community and create a productive and circular local economy.
1. Jacobs Square Townhouses & Courtyard Homes
Ash Sakula Architects
2. Pells Gardens Courtyard
Material Cultures Architects
3. Spring Lane Courtyard & Mews
Material Cultures
4. Rowe Lane Courtyard and Mews
Material Cultures
5. Pells Lane Courtyard & Mews
Mae Architects
6. Brook Street Co-Housing
Archio Architects
7. The Foundry Healthcare Practice
Mole Architects
8. Spring Gardens Apartments
Al-Jawad Pike Architects
9. Phoenix House
Human Nature Architects & Sustainable Construction
10. Phoenix Square Live Work & Creative Studios
Ash Sakula Architects
11. Soap Factory
Human Nature Architects & Sustainable Construction
12. Re-use Centre & Apartments
13. Full Cycle Bike Shop & Courtyard Homes
Rabble Architects
14. Co-Mobility Hub
Periscope (Architects) /WSP (Transport)
15. Foreshore Apartments
Adam Richards Architects
16. Phoenix Riverside Courtyard Homes
Human Nature, Adam Richards Architects, TDO & Eurban (Architects & Timber Specialists)
17. The Foundry Hotel, Roof Garden & Restaurant
Al-Jawad Pike Architects
18. Every Hall
Expedition Engineering
19. The Foundry Apartments
Al-Jawad Pike Architects
20. Foundry Yards Events Space
Mole Architects
21. Brook Street Galleries
Mole Architects
22. Foundry Workshops
Expedition Engineering
23. Ouse Villa Apartments
Mae Architects
24. North Street Courtyard Homes
Human Nature, Charles Holland Architects, TDO & Eurban (Architects & Timber Specialists)
25. Springman Corner Apartments
Mole Architects
26. Thomas Paine Bridge
Expedition Engineering (Structural Engineers), Paul Myles (Design)
27. Foundry Yards
28. River Walk & Belvedere
Periscope, Expedition Engineering
29. Ouse Slipway
Periscope, Expedition Engineering
30. Foreshore Park
31. Soap Yard Play Area
32. Phoenix Cycle Route
33. River Gardens
34. North Street
35. Brook Place
36. Phoenix Square
37. Phoenix Place
1. Pells Gardens Courtyard
2. Spring Lane Courtyard & Mews
3. Rowe Lane Courtyard & Mews
4. Pells Lane Courtyard & Mews
5. Brook Street Co-Housing
6. Green grocers
7. The Foundry Apartments
Housing, retail, workspace
8. The Health Hub
Foundry Primary Care Practice, North Street Dental Practice, complementary health services, pharmacy
9. Phoenix House
Offices, training, learning
10. Spring Gardens Apartments
11. Phoenix Square Live/Work & Creative Studios
Housing and creative space
12. Soap Yard
13. Soap Factory
Bouldering, climbing, skateboarding, dance, Starfish Studios, arts space, juice bar
14. Phoenix Neighbourhood Management
Estate management, mobility services, deliveries, repairs and maintenance, offices
15. Full Cycle & Apartments
Retail, housing
16. Phoenix Cycle Lane
17. Mobility Hub & Services
EV car share, car hire and car club; EV bike service and shuttle bus, last-mile freight, vehicle servicing and repair; 310 car-parking spaces
18. Causeway Foreshore Park
Landscaped garden, kiosk, public toilets, river viewing platform
19. Foreshore Apartments
20. Ouse slipway
Access to river, boat storage
21. Phoenix Riverside Apartments & Lofts
22. The Foundry Hotel
50 rooms, meeting facilities, rooftop gardens and restaurant, cocktail bar, events hire
23. Every Hall Community Centre
Community centre, coworking, Phoenix Canteen, wintergarden, retail
24. Foundry Yards Gallery
Community events, business conferences, exhibitions, performance
25. Foundry Yards
26. Thomas Paine bridge
27. Brook Street Galleries
Housing, makers’ space, retail
28. River Walk Garden and Belvedere
Seating, planters, taproom, pop-up cafés, music venue
29. Foundry Workshops
Community centre
30. Ouse Villa Apartments
31. North Street Apartments & Lofts
Housing, nursery
32. Jacobs Square Townhouses & Courtyard Homes
The development will transform a neglected former industrial site into a beautiful green place, providing much-needed homes and jobs, community spaces, a river walk, flood defences and health centre. At the heart of the neighbourhood will be a series of public squares connecting to a community canteen, event hall, taproom, fitness centre, workspace and makers’ studios, much of which will be housed within repurposed industrial structures. Shared courtyards, parks, green corridors and rooftop gardens will enable social interaction, promote communal living and provide habitats for local wildlife.

The masterplan for the Phoenix comprises 18 different housing blocks designed by 12 different architects (see Team), giving the neighbourhood diversity, character and housing choice.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
The Phoenix Industrial Estate in 2022
The North Street area and Phoenix Industrial Estate, although neglected today, played a crucial role in the history of Lewes and wider Sussex. It was home to the Phoenix Ironworks, established on the site by John Every in 1861. At its peak, it comprised multiple workshops and foundry buildings, supplying railings, bandstands and decorative ironwork across the county and beyond. In more recent years, the site played host to much of Lewes’s creative community, with art studios, a theatre and music venues on the site.

The site was marked for potential redevelopment in the early 2000s, resulting in a series of failed proposals, including the plans by investment fund Santon for the North Street Quarter. At the same time, a group of local people established Lewes Phoenix Rising with the aim of making sure that the plans being developed were consistent with the town’s needs for more affordable housing and workspace. A fire broke out in 2014, accelerating the site’s decline.
The Phoenix Project Design Festival
The Phoenix will be a neighbourhood for everyone, with abundant green space, community facilities and new river walk
Meredith Bowles, principal, Mole Architects
The neighbourhood centre
The Foundry Yards will be the civic heart of the Phoenix
. Built around two industrial heritage structures, the Every Hall and the Foundry Workshops, this pedestrianised square will be built around a community canteen, co-working and creative makers’ space, a new events and music space and, through arches in the flood wall, to the river front.

The Phoenix will embrace its position at the edge of the Ouse, opening up the riverfront to Lewes: a river walk will run the length of the Phoenix, connecting to Willeys Bridge in the north and the Causeway Foreshore Park to the south. It will widen in the centre, where elevated gardens, the Belvedere, will provide a place to sit and take in views of the river and Downs. Here it will connect to a new pedestrian bridge across the Ouse to Malling.
The Foundry Yards (Credit: Human Nature with Periscope / Carlos Penálver)
Community spaces
The Every Hall (previously the Hammonds building) was built between 1860-1873 and used as the main casting hall in the Phoenix Ironworks. The building will become a flexible co-working space and community canteen, serving seasonal low-cost food. The building will open on to the Foundry Yards to the west, with the structure extended to incorporate a winter garden to the south-east. A mezzanine will provide additional desk space and allow access from the Belvedere and riverside walk.

The Foundry Workshops, originally used as a Smiths shop by the Phoenix Ironworks, will sit to the west of the Foundry Yards. It will continue the site’s long history of manufacture and creativity by providing rentable workspace for makers, artists and craftspeople, some of which will be shared. The building will also house a microbrewery and, at mezzanine level, a taproom, which will open on to the Belvedere.
The Soap Factory opening on to the Soap Yard (Credit: Human Nature with Periscope)
Play spaces
Opening on to the Soap Yard public square will be a family-friendly sports and wellness centre in the Soap Factory. It will particularly appeal to the interests of children, teenagers and young adults – groups not always well catered for in Lewes. We are working with partners to explore the inclusion of music studios, a juice bar, fitness rooms, an indoor skatepark, parkour and bouldering centre.
Design & services
The Phoenix will be inherently sustainable – in the way it is designed, how it is built and through the lives its residents are able to lead
Sustainable construction
The Phoenix will be notable for its use of structural timber, which offers the structural strength of ‘traditional’ materials, such as concrete and steel, but with lower embodied carbon. In fact, timber sourced from sustainable, well-managed forests is regenerative – it sequesters carbon, giving timber structure buildings a negative carbon impact overall.

We also intend to, as the architect Duncan Baker-Brown has it, ‘mine the Anthropocene’: that is, reuse materials that have already been created and therefore retain and capture their embodied carbon. In addition to retention of  industrial heritage structures and our office, Phoenix House, we are conducting an audit to reveal what site materials can be reused in building structures, such as steel trusses and cladding, brick walls and buttressing.
1911 facade on the Phoenix Industrial Estate
Kathryn Firth, director, masterplanning and urban design, Arup
Shared living
The Phoenix will also promote the practice of shared living: of space, resources, amenities and ideas. The neighbourhood will provide community centres and outdoor space – including courtyards, play areas, gardens and green roofs – that encourage interaction between people of all ages.

We are providing spaces for residents to set up their own ventures focused on upcycling, repair and reuse: what can’t be fixed or upcycled will be sorted on site for recycling, with only the residual material collected by the council. Food waste will be composted, providing fertilisation for urban farming, where food is grown for the neighbourhood canteen, cafés and restaurant.
The Phoenix from the Causeway (Credit: Human Nature with Periscope / Carlos Penálver)
The Co-Mobility Hub is among the most important buildings on the Phoenix, channelling vehicles to the southern tip of the neighbourhood, creating streets safe for walking, cycling and for children playing. Space traditionally used for private driveways can instead be put to communal use: shared courtyards, playgrounds and rain gardens.

The Hub will contain parking spaces, an electric car share, car hire and car club; electric bike service and shuttle bus, vehicle servicing and repair, and a ‘last-mile’ freight facility – carrying goods into the neighbourhood. Services such as car hire will be operated by an app or in person, allowing residents to book vehicles whenever needed, reducing the need to own a private car – aided by the fact that most daily needs can be met within a short walk.