• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

The ‘futuristic’ £5m Middlesbrough hotel that never came to light

Psyche Hotel drawing

It was the £5m “futuristic” hotel that would have changed Middlesbrough town centre.

Sadly, despite planning permission being granted twice, a boutique hotel and restaurant above one of the North East’s most iconic shops never materialised.

However, the original blueprints for the ambitious complex above Psyche have been unearthed by the award-wining firm tasked with designing it.

For decades, Middlesbrough has been Harkin Associates’ canvas, with the leading local design and architecture firm responsible for some of the area’s best-known buildings.

And to celebrate the firm’s 35th anniversary, the firm’s Practice Principal Andy Harkin delved back into the archives for a look at one that sadly got away.

One of the firm’s most famous designs was Psyche’s flagship store in Middlesbrough town centre.

Now regarded as a retail institution in Middlesbrough, Harkin Associates were first approached over 20 years ago to design a shop that would go on to win awards for its aesthetic.

“At the time, Psyche was a flagship store for the North East and it changed that area of Linthorpe Road immeasurably,” added Andy.

Our initial brief was for a 35,000sqft space – so the size of a department store but with the feel and passion of an ‘uber boutique. The aim was create ‘retail theatre’,” recalled Andy.

“Since then it has attracted boutique shops and top restaurants, and Psyche very much acted as the catalyst for that change.”

However, as the store’s popularity soared, Harkin Associates were tasked with taking it to next level.

The firm drew up “futuristic” plans that would have resulted in a stunning £5m hotel complex nestled above the sprawling store.

The site would have had 39 rooms and a 250-cover rooftop restaurant. It was hoped the hotel would eventually become an “iconic landmark building” in the heart of the town, and one which could act as a catalyst for further investment.

There would have been an external panoramic glass lift and the bedrooms were to be pods, constructed off-site, that would have then been attached,” added Andy.

“Our designs were very out-of-the-box and exciting and it was really ahead of its time.

“It would have offered panoramic views of the Tees Valley and added a lot of charm and originality to the town centre.”

A planning application was first lodged in 2007 with approval granted by Middlesbrough Council. Four years later, permission was once again granted.

However, despite the town centre being notably starved of sufficient hotel space at the turn of the last decade, the development sadly never came to fruition while Psyche was later snapped-up by Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley.

For Harkin Associates however, many of their bold and ambitious designs thankfully did come to light.

Having designed vibrant spaces across Teesside, the company has now firmly established itself as one of the area’s leading architectural design practices, with a strong reputation for clear and distinctive drawings.

The Brignell Road-based firm has played a key role in transforming the Teesside skyline, while the firm’s distinctive and clear drawings have helped transform everywhere from local schools to the Riverside Stadium – which it helped to prepare for the Premier League when Boro were last promoted in 2016.

That work has resulted in the company helping a raft of other top clubs bring their facilities up to scratch, including Leeds United, whilst attracting clients from every corner of the world.

“We have had projects in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, the USA and Malaysia,” added Andy.

“However, nothing compares to seeing your drawings come to life in Teesside.

“That’s our home and the whole team still gets an incredible buzz when a building you helped design is built on your doorstep.”