In January 2013 the Lancaster Cohousing Group (LCG) approached the University of Central Lancashire to invite MA students to develop interior design proposals for their Mill building near Lancaster.
A team of three MA students was established to collaborate on the design of the Mill refurbishment from two different UCLan MA courses. Bonnie Craig has a passion for Surface Pattern and whilst both Chen Zhao and Alice Fulton are studying the MA Interior Design course together, their interests are almost diametrically opposed. Chen is a competent three dimensional visualizer and Alice is a textile designer. The mix of skills proved very useful on the project and each was able to cover a substantially different area of research.
LCG, the client that requested help to develop the real life brief for the conversion have created an ecological housing development situated on the bank of the River Lune in the village of Halton, 3 miles from Lancaster. This is the largest PassivHaus (www.passivhaus.org.uk) development in the UK where the residents who live there have both the advantage of home ownership and the sharing of facilities within the community.
On completion of the houses at the end of 2012, LCG began work on Halton Mill. The industrial Mill was in a very dilapidated state and was a building they had inherited as a part of the original development purchase. The Mill was to be managed by a separate cooperative that LCG established called Green Elephant who have the aspiration of attracting creative customers to the finished workshops, offices and studio spaces. These would ideally be attractive to:
- small businesses
- freelancers and social enterprises
- creative industries (designers, craftspeople, performers, artists, writers and musicians).
Interior design proposals were developed for the two main communal spaces in the mill comprising of the reception and a two story height space known as the “hub”. This was a real challenge as the client is a large group of residents who have differing opinions and aspirations for the project. However the following key factors for the developenet were established so work could begin.
- To create a visual identity that reflected the ecological values of Green Elephant, the mill’s history and the function of the building.
- To produce a set of interior design elements and styles that could be applied throughout the building.
- To consider potential uses for the various spaces inside the mill.
- To create a friendly and welcoming environment that could attract customers willing to “take the next step from working at home” (Halton Mill 2013).
- To develop ideas within the spaces that would encourage collaboration and the sharing of ideas, resources and facilities in order to reduce the environmental impact of their working activities.