Creating a Centre for fine art printmaking for Leicester and the Midlands.
Client Statement – Lucy Phillips, Leicester Print Workshop The layout for our new Centre for Fine Art Printmaking was dictated by function; but it was the vision of our partners at Takero Shimazaki Architects that has made it into a striking, dynamic space with fabulous views across the interior and between the two floors.
Ours is a very particular building, catering for all kinds of printmaking processes from lithography to screenprinting, relief to intaglio. We needed room for individual artists to practice and for groups to learn together, we wanted individually appointed utility rooms to allow for etching, stone graining, screen washing, aquatinting, stock and storage and we also asked for exhibition and education spaces, framing rooms, individual studios, offices and communal areas. t-sa took our practical needs and created a unique space that fulfills its function and that continues to wow users and visitors.
From the very first meeting with Takero we knew we would have a good working relationship. He was excited about working in a making space and he immediately understood not only the shortcomings of our previous site, a corner shop on an Edwardian terrace, but our ambitions to create an exemplary Centre that would give us the opportunities to reach out to many more people. It was nearly two years exactly from our first meeting to our celebrated launch and during that time Leicester Print Workshop enjoyed an extremely enjoyable and harmonious relationship with t-sa, we feel we were very well looked after by Takero, Jennifer and the team as we managed what was for our organisation a once in a lifetime experience.
Simplified brief - Lucy Phillips, Leicester Print Workshop To refurbish a 1970s steel-framed warehouse to create a fully functioning, accessible, Centre for fine art printmaking housing a large printmaking studio with ancillary rooms, education and exhibition space, offices and artist studios. To include removal of the existing internal walls, adding in a first floor, replacing the roof and creating a layout that would allow the print workshop to better cater for its users and to grow its activities.
Architects Statement - Jennifer Frewen, Project Architect In November 2015, Takero Shimazaki Architects completed the transformation of a 1970s former glass warehouse to create new printmaking studios, library, gallery and education spaces for Leicester Print Workshop in the city’s Cultural Quarter.
The project has taken two years to complete on site from initial briefing in October 2015. Planning approval was granted in April 2014 and the project was procured with a traditional building contract. The project was funded significantly by Arts Council England, together with investment from major grant making trusts and various fundraising events and activities by the artists themselves. Leicester City Council gifted the freehold of the original building to LPW. The project was a focal point of community development and bonding in the area among not only the artists but of a wider community.
On the ground floor, LPW’s main printmaking studios activate a previously neglected part of the city and have animated this new gateway to the Cultural Quarter with the visibility of their making processes. A series of workshop spaces for etching, lithography stone graining, silk-screen washing, aquatint and a dark room are located at the rear. At the front is the new double height gallery space with the library area for members. An existing crane and its support beam have been kept in this space piercing through the upper floor offices from the void area. The upper level is predominantly artist studio spaces for hire with offices for LPW and a framing space. There is a further central void in the middle of the studio where the two floors are connected in view.
Artist’s feedback has been received that the collaboration has transformed not only the premises but also the artists, members and Leicester itself. This has come through many aspects but not least the improvements in the public realm, street scene and in the innovation of the client body and design team to think beyond the limitations of budget to produce an exemplar of sustainable renewal in cities.
Engineer statement – Derek Walker, EDP Engineers The Leicester Print Workshop proved to be an extremely challenging project to be involved with as a result of extremely tight budget limiting the options available to supply an effective services solution, the building boundary effectively forming the curtilage of the site restricting the ability to utilise renewable technologies. Working closely with the Architects and client allowed the services solutions to be refined and with judicial relocation of internal spaces allowed the servicing solutions to have reduced pipe runs minimising installation costs without impacting on the functionality of the building.
The sustainability aspect of the project was addressed with the overall design philosophy of maximizing the existing structure and thus reusing the embodied energy already contained within the structure. Passive heating has been maximised by judicial use of glazing and the use of rooflights and lightwells in the structure has enhanced daylight levels even into the ground floor areas, the addition of high levels of thermal insulation has reduced the energy required to heat the building. Demand controls have been applied to ventilation systems, to avoid unnecessary wastage of energy by running the ventilation when the ventilation is not required. Heating is also weather compensated, controlled to time with optimum start and stop to reduce the numbers of hours that the heating is used, and to maximise the operating efficiencies of the heating by maximising the ability to operate in condensing mode.
Working Detail ‘Renewal’ - Takero Shimazaki, Director, t-sa Working with what is already there on site, t-sa focused on the existing and historical artifacts to create the architecture for LPW. This was partly as a result of the tight budget, however it is t-sa’s core belief that new build projects are not the only way to make a significant, economically sustainable and long lasting architectural contribution to cities. The original warehouse itself was in a state of disrepair and the overall site environment and contribution to the wider area was negative. The visibility of the artists and occupants and their activity became central to giving this neglected site a new lease of life and engaging passers-by, as well as between various internal spaces.
The 4,800sqft warehouse was completely gutted to allow for the insertion of new windows, floor and roof to form 8,500sqft of new spaces. Existing historical artifacts including immense steel beams, cranes, a raw concrete floor and external brick piers and walls have been retained in place. The ‘new’ inserted or layered elements have been predominantly constructed and tied in white in colour to highlight the existing artifacts and preserve the building’s character. Externally, some of the original window openings have been re-used and others closed up with purposeful recesses to mark such actions.