Year | 2013
Location | Blackburn
Client | Blackburn with Darwen Council
[re]create Blackburn is a collaborative project between SSoA and Blackburn and Darwen council. Blackburn has a strong history of making; innovation in weaving made it one of the first industrialised towns in the world. Today, the town centre is suffering like others across the country; many shops lie empty and there is little prospect of recovery based on retail alone.This project aims to develop upon Blackburn’s existing creative town plan, exploring the role that arts and the creative industries could play in rejuvenating Blackburn town centre. The project specifically focuses on the arrival of the ‘Fab Lab’ in the existing Bentley’s building located adjacent to the main town square and its relationship to Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery.
Our design process was enhanced by collaborations; we believed our best ideas would come from participation with the people of Blackburn as well as other community groups. We utilised our base in an empty shop off the town square to open up our doors and ask people to participate in several activities, which provided us with invaluable information to take through to our strategic designs. In addition to this we attended creative sessions with the local council, the designer Wayne Hemingway and local students from Blackburn College.
From this information we created three strategies that linked to our findings and the creative town plan. The strategies work on different scales and encompass the introduction of digital fabrication technology, facilitating enterprises and reinforcing connections with Blackburn’s history.
SMALL – The small scale strategy looks at the Blackburn bandwagon, a small flexible cart fabricated in the ‘Fab Lab’ that can support various activities including pop-up retail, exhibitions and events.
MEDIUM – The medium scale strategy aims to [re] connect the museum with the ‘Fab Lab’, and the additional programming which could support the ‘Fab Lab’ in the Bentley’s building.
LARGE – The large scale strategy looks at The makers trail an Urban strategy of way-finding for community engagement and marketing, using the ‘Fab Lab’ to create routes to the museum, ‘Fab lab’ and other cultural landmarks.
All three scales of design are intended to work together with the councils twelve point plan to promote design and the creative industries in Blackburn reinvigorating the town centre as a destination with a depth of appeal beyond the retail model.
We would like to thank Blackburn is Open, Blackburn with Darwen Council, Capita Architects, Source Creative and all the people of Blackburn for their time and efforts over the course of the six week project.