Former industrial towns in the North have long lost their vibrance but are still left with traces of an important past and a strong community. While the government launched the ‘‘Levelling up’’ scheme in order to generate more revenue for towns like Burnley, it is clear that the working midle class is targeted to increase their opportunities while other demographics are left with little.
The Burnley Empire Trust is taking action in order to preserve Burnley's heritage and give it back to its community. Therefore, this project’s programme heavily relies on the Trust’s cause and on a demographic group that might benefit the most out of its reopening: the children. The preschool and children’s theatre will welcome kids of all backgrounds with an emphasis on single parent families.
The concept of the project is strongly linked to reuse, discovery and refurbishment of old heritage. The preschool and children’s theatre uses exploration as the main creative driver and therefore looks into ways of translating this concept into architecture.
The journey through the building feels like a continuous game of hide and seek as the visitor can catch glimpses of everything that is behind the walls depending on their perspective. The atrium acts as both a foyer and a play area depending on the time of day as the complex operates differently depending on the occasion. The timber lining is used to frame certain views inside the foyer/play area forming a strong visual connection with the theatre space and leading the visitors to its entrance.
Having the opportunity to speak to both the Burnley Empire Trust staff and the people of Burnley gave a strong community feel to the project and made me discover a new interest in the reuse and conservation of old heritage.