Also known as the Mayfield Book Centre and Historical Archive, The Narrator is a community building that connects the residents of Mayfield and Ardwick, forming a part of the Mayfield Regeneration scheme. The project manifests the idea of observing the change and feeling the timeline of a city to remind people of the past’s shaping influence on the present and the future. It celebrates the changes around us and the culture of the area.
The project establishes a state of change through books, a medium that records the past, influences the present, and delivers stories to the future. The building comprises programmes including book repair, writing rooms and bookbinding that collect people's stories. A mobile book market travelling on carts expands and extends the book centre into Mayfield and Ardwick, thus creating virtual links between the community and the greater context. The whole scheme aims to embrace divergent backgrounds and allow people to express and react.
Through a series of urban strategies that shape territories and break physical boundaries with the existing context, The Narrator strengthens the sense of community and leads users from the Ardwick entrance to the footbridge in Mayfield. It places them in the timeline joining the three temporalities as users walk through the building, a journey highlighted by the red staircase.
The modular timber structure’s high flexibility allows for adaptability and change in programme and layout. The increasingly occupied interior space results in foreseeable structural expansion decades after the building's inaugural, aptly demonstrating the dynamic process of responding to the people’s needs and social changes that is prerequisite to any promising urban regeneration. Therefore, even as the book centre and archive lose association with the area’s identity in a hundred years, the project and structure will continue to evolve and always belong to the people.