This bold proposal for Accrington’s town centre aims to revive the skeleton of vitality to its former industrial glory by simultaneously offering experience and education. ‘The Accrington Domes’ is a pottery centre and hotspot for locals to gather, interchange and enjoy, embodied by a diverse range of rammed earth cylinders and domes. It is a multi-functional space comprising of a gallery, cafe, auditorium, library, ceramic workshop and studio spaces. As part of the brief, preserving cultural heritage is a key driver for the narrative of my design and is applied through adaptive re-use of the existing structure on site as well as re-establishing a relationship with the town’s historic ceramic industry and surrounding hillscape.

To reintroduce a sense of pride, the concept of permeability and phenomenology form the backbone of this project. With the open nature of the circulation space and multitude of entrances through the interjected glazed facade, the building’s fluid environment aims to emphasise the threshold between journey and arrival and functions to be a welcoming host for the public. The natural curves and layers of rammed earth aim to naturally push and pull the members of the public through the building, much like the winding paths of nearby countryside walks.

With the organic and sustainable layers of soil shaping the monolithic walls, users of the building are invited to engage with their non-visual senses and explore tactility, both through simply traveling through the space and using it hands-on in the workshop as a tool for creative expression. I employed a fabric first approach with my design ethos, using rammed earth’s sustainability credentials to push for a low carbon future. In saying this, I am personally interested in the view that building sustainably is not a sacrifice but a design challenge. As part of Continuity in Architecture, this project engages in contextualism and the inter-disciplinary nature of the architectural field, with my particular interest concerning the wider importance of urban development in conjunction with art & culture, society, environment and politics.