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Langley Smelt Works : Minuartia Verna

Part 1 Project 2010
Christopher Brown
Northumbria University Newcastle upon Tyne UK
Phytoremediation , the removal of contaminants using plants, forms the main concept of the proposal. Specifically using the plant named Leadwort (Minuartia Verna), naturally occurring on lead spoil in the Hexamshire Moors it was used historically to locate lead veins.

The site is a residual sanctuary for metallophyte communities. Planting of flora on the footprint of Langley Smelting Mill reveals itself year after year as ghost on the landscape Guided by flora the visitor will experience the history of the site and discover the proposals strong connection to both past and present.

The proposal touches the earth lightly, occupying one of the only remaining buildings of the smelting mill, the building houses the visitor centre, documenting both the sensitive nature of the scheme and the historic relevance of the site.

The proposal provides a steel framework for the development of allotment plots on the site of the Mill and encourages the extension and embellishment of this frame work, planting of white leadwort flowers cleanse the soil and are followed by a plethora of colour as the plots change purpose.

Christopher Brown

The project uncovers a forgotten relic from the golden age of industry. The Langley smelt works in the north Pennines was the fulcrum of the lead industry for much of the nineteenth century, but now lies derelict and forgotten.

The project provides an approach to purifying the contaminated ground and resurrecting the allotments which were previously offered to attract people to the works.

In the same way that the chimneys and flues extended into the landscape to push the noxious fumes away from the community, the project seeks to use the natural filtering qualities of leadwort in an ever extending wave of planting - returning the contaminated ground to its former fertility.

The project is a highly sophisticated and mature response to these issues, beautifully restrained and always sensitively in touch with its physical, historical and cultural contexts, creating a proposal of the highest quality.

Mr Benjamin Elliott
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