The ethos of my atelier, Continuity in Architecture, of using tangible and intangible qualities of the urban environment to inform decisions is what drove the design of Accrington’s Art and Crafts Community Hub. My position as a designer is to prioritize placemaking and connectivity that is routed in understanding the continual evolution of a place, integrated with sustainable design that minimizes impact on the environment. The community hub is a respectful response to the existing fabric of a town center that was in desperate need of placemaking that could reconnect the town, physically and socially. The site sat between Accrington Market Hall and Accrington Town Hall, historical landmarks which required careful consideration.
Intervening on the site has extended and connected together major paths and landmarks in the town, providing an extension to the public realm that promotes encounter and exchange, and the making, selling and celebration of local art. Permeability through the site encourages travel across a previously blocked route, increasing the imageability of the area as elements of the town become connected. My building does not act independently, but rather in connection to the wider context.
The program contains a compact collection of mixed used spaces including an auditorium, library, craft workshops, teaching rooms, café, shops and a series of galleries. A particular focus is creating a low embodied carbon scheme which is achieved through a reuse of structural elements of a 1960s extension to the Town Hall, and using Glulam and CLT across the rest of the scheme for dynamic geometry and sustainability. I have continued the historical legacy of the Town Hall, a landmark that has enjoyed a diverse range of functions and serves as the heart of the community.