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Creative Conservation

If you want to know more about our creative conservation services contact Jason Martin

Change is inevitable even when dealing with our built heritage. Not only do old buildings need to be repaired, they also need to move with the times in response to social economic and technological change.

We believe the best way to prolong the life of a historic building is to give it renewed purpose. To secure the necessary investment in our built heritage we need to be able to successfully adapt buildings so they’re fit for our clients' future needs.

Adapting any building requires creativity. Adapting a heritage asset arguably requires greater creativity – and that’s where we can help. Our expertise for projects involving historic buildings or places lies in our ability to see the big picture, to help our clients with strategic decision making, to balance conservation with creative re-use, to steer projects through the planning process and realise their full potential.

Creative conservation is the process of managing change whilst preserving and enhancing the values that make historic buildings special.

Creative Conservation in action

Street view of the Plumstead Centre entrance

Plumstead Centre A new heart for a diverse community

Tileyard North A creative industries hub for the North

We transformed an underused Grade II-listed public library into a new civic anchor for Plumstead’s local community through a retrofit and extension. From intimate library spaces to a bustling gym, the new Plumstead Centre provides a range of spaces designed as part of the first phase of the area’s regeneration.

When Plumstead Library gained listed status in 2016, the Royal Borough of Greenwich was prompted to ask what more the building could be, and which combination of services might create a sustainable business model for this historic public asset. We engaged with stakeholders and local people at an early stage, exploring the types of activities and functions that were in demand and would be welcomed by the diverse community.

The resulting design reconfigured the building’s layout. A new entrance on Quilter Street at the rear of the building now leads to an inviting and open ground floor. At the threshold between the new and old, a full-height glazed ‘box’ creates level-access to a social space where a ‘book mountain’ offers informal reading and socialising space.

An entirely new environmental system was introduced with limited impact on the historical character of the building, through carefully woven pipes, ducts, and mechanical equipment in existing and new routes. Installing 63 secondary glazed units during this refurbishment ensured more thermal efficiency and created quieter spaces for the local user groups.

The design outcome improves the building fabric of a key local heritage asset and factors in future change from the outset, ensuring its longevity.

Plumstead Centre reinvigorates the civic presence on Plumstead’s high street, enabling free library facilities to stay open longer than ever before through cross-funding from paid facilities at the Centre.

Tileyard North at Rutland Mills is the final piece of a ten-acre regenerative masterplan that is breathing new life into Wakefield’s waterfront. The project converts a complex of long-derelict Grade II listed mills into a mixed-use, inclusive, creative, and cultural cluster with world-class facilities.

The site plays host to a wide range of public facing events in conjunction with The Hepworth in a more informal and accessible setting, inviting the wider community into events ranging from ceramics fairs to Christmas markets.

The renewed creative campus – the UK’s largest outside of London – offers a variety of workspaces for creative businesses, music and photography studios, event spaces, food and drink offers, and a gin distillery. A new public courtyard is formed, providing a hard-surfaced counterpart to the soft landscape of the Hepworth Gallery Garden.

We have retained and celebrated as much of the existing fabric as possible, choosing to intervene only where absolutely necessary. Approximately 80% of the existing built fabric has been kept, thereby minimising the scheme’s embodied carbon. A range of discreet approaches (such as insulating roofs, drying and repairing masonry, and improving windows) has significantly improved the performance of the existing buildings. We salvaged and reused materials where possible, reclaiming bricks, stone flags, roof slates, beam ties, and pattress plates, to repair the existing buildings and bring them into sustainable long-term use.

Tileyard North transforms a long-forgotten industrial liability into a valuable asset for Wakefield.