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Ceramic Business Hub, Gallery & cafe/bar, Stoke-on-Trent

Part 2 Project 2008
Joanna Harvey
De Montfort University, UK
Stoke-on-Trent was famously known as ‘the potteries’.

At the turn of the 20th-century Stoke-on-Trent was a thriving industrial town, the main source of employment was the manufacture and production of ceramics and earthenware. Today, a scattering of kilns around the city are a poignant reminder of it’s thriving past.

Stoke-on-Trent’s city centre is bound, north - south, in a clockwise direction by the city ring road completed in 1988. The City Council’s ‘strategy’ is to complete the ring road by 2011. The proposal destroys local heritage and disconnects neighbouring communities to amenities. Also, with the completion of the new ring road a new Tesco Mega store will be built on the edge of the city centre, a ‘one-stop shop’ which will destroy local business and economy.

The development of the new ring road will run through a redundant brownfield site, formerly a thriving area of Pottery Works and Flint Mills, south of the Centre. The proposal demolishes the few surviving 18th/19th-century industrial buildings left on the site.

The proposed Ceramic Business Hub, Gallery & café / bar aims to challenge the completion of the ring road and contribute to the regeneration of a degraded urban site by re-using and restoring an existing building and creating a new dynamic facility where young and creative ceramic artists can work, exhibit and sell their works.

The spatial layout has been designed to retain and modify the existing structural form, whilst the new contemporary intervention, a glazed atrium punctures the building’s core north to south. The geometric triple height atrium shape extends beyond the building to form the main public entrance to the south, and a new cantilevered viewing platform projects beyond the north elevation at second floor level to allow views across the city’s sky line.

Internally, bridges cross the atrium volume linking the east and west side of the building, which connects the artist studios to the public zones.

Joanna Harvey

The raison d’être of this project is in its critical antagonism to the pernicious effects of mainstream masterplanning, which in the case of Stoke-on-Trent will entail the demolition of many of the most meaningful parts of the town and its historic built fabric. As an act of resistance, this project emphasises the importance of re-using “ordinary” old buildings, as part of a culture of sustainability. It crashes a new architectural language into an old one, forcing a marriage between old and new. The very fine drawings, and the technical skill shown in resolving the collision, make this a noteworthy project for a creative ceramic arts centre.

Dr Tom Muirhead
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