I believe that the user should be at the core of every design, and that’s why I placed my focus on understanding Burnley’s community. Rather than how the users are going to interact with my building, I asked myself how my building will interact with the users, and how it will integrate in the context of the town. I wanted my project to be something that is specifically catered to Burnley, and that would fill existing gaps in the social framework and, because of that, my programme came after an extensive and personal dive into the people that call Burnley home.
Visiting the town, I started thinking about what Burnley needs, and more importantly WHO is in need. Upon talking to multiple people in the community and getting to know the social environment, I identified that there are three groups of people that were, pushed away, left without a space of their own in the town: the youth, the elderly and the homeless of Burnley. Trying to single out a common denominator at the root of each of the group’s problem, I concluded that all of them could benefit from more support, in the form of mental health, something that I am very passionate about.
I aimed to create a scheme that improves well-being, mental and physical, in a way that is not scary or stigmatised, but rather welcoming, through things they might enjoy as an activity on its own: dance, music and poetry. Providing the people with a space they can express themselves, interact or skill-share is my way of enabling them to have their voice heard, to take back their property, to reclaim the town. Rather than an empty lot or a building on the verge of collapsing, why not give the property back and make it a place for the community, from the community.