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Ludlow Chocolate Factory

Part 1 Project 2009
Timothy Bedingfield
University of the West of England | UK
The context for this project is the small town of Ludlow, Shropshire, a town that prides itself on its food and culinary excellence. It serves a large hinterland by providing a point of exchange and gathering for local food artisans. The chocolate classroom is a craft manufactory for the learning and exploration of chocolate making process; it is a proposal which seeks to develop the town’s passion and commitment to food excellence.

The architecture has derived from the understanding that a chocolatier’s profile is governed by an intimate knowledge of the creation and tasting processes of chocolate. It provides a neutral canvas an ideal environment in which the craftsperson teaches the apprentice to appreciate chocolate in regards to its appearance, flavours, aromas, textures, and even the sound it makes when snapped.

This simple and elegant architectural proposal is conceived within a long narrow burgage plot of Ludlow’s strict urban grid. It is composed of three elements, manufactory, garden and residence. The manufactory and residence are set at either end of the burgage plot and are separated by a secret garden, which provides ingredients for chocolate. The manufactory fronts Ludlow’s market place which is a source of inspiration for the apprentices, whilst the residence peers out of the town towards the Teme valley, providing a retreat and a place where the craftsperson can welcome the connoisseurs of other gourmet foods. The elements share a continued materiality and circulation so that the mind may be consumed by a constant need to learn.

The manufactory at ground level accommodates the creative processes, which are contained in a seemily transparent space, whilst the tasting rooms are removed and placed at the first floor level. The creative level will expose apprentices to the entire ‘bean to bar’ process, whilst the tasting level will give the apprentices a means to reflect on the chocolate created. The tasting level accommodates both public and private rooms so that their innovations in chocolate can be tested in the company of the public and other chocolate connoisseurs.

Timothy Bedingfield

The Shropshire town of Ludlow has brought together a number of organisations into a Consortium which hopes that they will attract a number of the country’s leading craftspeople to the town, and support them in setting up their own independent manufactories, in which their work will be made, displayed, distributed and sold. It is also hoped that each individual studio will provide residential training positions for a number of apprentices.

Every student was asked to decide on which craft they would adopt. Each student was asked to design a complex of buildings in Ludlow that would allow his or her particular craft based product to be manufactured. They became experts in this process of manufacture; and made visits to see the process of manufacture taking place, so that they became proficient practitioners in this process of manufacture.

Tim chose chocolate-making as his ‘craft’. He took this well beyond the confines of understanding the technology of manufacture: he saw the ritual of chocolate-making as being similar to choosing an item of clothing from a bespoke tailor. From the earliest stages, he saw the ‘chocolatier’ as a person who ‘fitted’ chocolates to individual clients’ needs. Because of this, the built form had, from the earliest stages, accommodation for tasting work-in-progress, in much the same way as a tailor would fit a half-completed garment.

Tim’s urban moves in the historic fabric of Ludlow were inspired: he took a conventional frontage looking onto the market square, and built deeply back from this, forming a linear site parallel to the Castle walls. His massing strategy was clearly stated and upheld throughout the design process: the manufacturing element and public interface were in the part of the site nearest to the market, and the required residential element was placed at the rear. These two volumes were separated by a private open space.

Tim informed his design with reference to appropriate precedents.

Mr Mike Devereux

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