Middleport Pottery is the home of ‘Burleigh Ware’ ceramics, and is one of the last working Victorian Potteries in the United Kingdom.
The brief called for the renovation of the at-risk building fabric, reclaiming abandoned and uninhabitable spaces to house new businesses and visitor facilities and create a more diverse mixed-use ‘hub’ of ceramics enterprises within the Victorian factory ranges.
Improving visitor access and education facilities were fundamental to the regeneration objectives of the project, allowing the people of Burslem to reconnect with their industrial heritage, and rekindling the pride of a community built on generations of world-leading design and craft.
The Grade II* listed factory was built in Burslem, Stoke on Trent. It was designed to an innovative new model, arranged to maximise the efficiencies of production from the arrival of the clay through to the packaging and export of the finished product. Sited on the banks of the Trent & Mersey canal, the factory was directly linked with Liverpool docks, and the international demands for British products at the height of the country’s industrial eminence.
Middleport Pottery is now one of a handful of sites across Europe where a traditional industrial factory and its original function have been conserved, repaired and regenerated for community benefit.
The building’s time-worn industrial character was very fragile and in danger of being lost to over-sanitised heritage commodification. Even though the buildings were at risk of collapse, their conservation could jeopardise everything about the site that the team hoped to save. The ‘light touch’ philosophy sought only to intervene where essential.
The ‘new layer’ of contemporary design was founded on extensive analysis of the existing condition and a thorough understanding of the site’s history, quantifying those characteristics that gave the site its sense of place.
The refurbishment has made a number of major sustainability improvements. The conservation brief required extensive refurbishment of leaking roofs and windows, and improving the energy efficiency of the building envelope through upgraded insulation, enhanced airtightness performance and the installation of new highly efficient servicing, including lifts. External lighting has been designed to a low lux level to minimise light pollution whilst maintaining a flight path for bats. The scheme is undergoing final BREEAM certification with a target rating of ‘Very Good’.