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Paper Farm

Part 1 Project 2003
University of Brighton, UK

My interest in the built environment has, throughout the year, focused on the simple relationship between place, material, function and inhabitation. This design project was the chance to bring these elements together.
The brief asked us to design a working paper factory, using the knowledge of the production process gained from our earlier projects.
The site, in Shoreham-on-sea, is fairly isolated and very exposed, tucked away on the coast beside the industrial port. I wanted to create a scheme that would re-link it with the dwindling industry, and the leisure users of the nearby Hove lagoon and the pedestrian esplanade which runs along the coast to Brighton.
The buildings have several functions, falling into three main categories – production, public and private. I chose to inhabit the site with a number of buildings which house these different functions. As the site at present is both eroded exposed, I added subterranean spaces to both shelter the users and maintain public access to the beach.
As the site is exposed to weather the buildings two main features are the use of aged, recycled materials and the addition of large roofs acting as canopies to protect the spaces beneath. The buildings are constructed from recycled timber, with corrugated iron roofs echoing the aesthetic of the warehouses which edge up to the site.
The linearity of the site, and the process of paper-making, has dictated the layout of the scheme, with cotton rags delivered one end and the finished paper taken out the other and delivered to the port, in a bid to regenerate a dwindling trade and area.
The production buildings are robust, with wooden cladding and shutters that enable the place to survive the conditions. I have used both craft and industrial processes to make the paper, with wet, dry, dark and ventilated spaces as suits, with a large drying loft which extends when full, infringing on the other elements of the building. The sheltering roof also provides pockets of light, with large glazed cut-out above areas of use.

The scheme responds to the site, the process of production, and the elements.

Martin Horne’s proposal for a factory recycling, then making paper impressed us with its ambitions: in scale appropriate to the process, his arrangement on a demanding site convinces through spatial and ecological strategies as well as through the generous use of modest but appropriate materials for construction. Envisaged initially as a self-sufficient “paper farm” the project draws on research ranging from strategies adopted at the similarly conceived Ruskin Mill to volumetric spaces for holding and revealing paper that are found in Japan.

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