Eckersley Urban Village,
+ MSA Design Awards Commendation 2008
The Eckersley Mills site contains a substantial group of Grade II listed mills and support buildings built between 1883 – 1920. The mills with their associated engine houses, chimneys, weaving sheds, a beaming and reeling shed, a canteen and various other ancillary buildings originally formed part of the factory complex known after 1900 as Eckersley Limited, manufacturers of cotton and cotton fabric. It is the biggest and perhaps most important complex of its kind still intact in the UK.
At present, the site is grossly underused, host to a small number of light industrial and commercial activities. Lacking a positive relation with the surrounding streets and waterways, it is literally isolated as an island.
The proposal seeks to invert this ‘island condition’ and stitch the site back into the town centre: The first move is to extend the adjacent Leeds Liverpool canal into the site to form a new marina at its heart, creating increased-value ‘water’s edge’ land around the marina. Herein, a new mix of uses is proposed within retained, refurbished buildings and new buildings which include offices, housing, a hotel, an arts complex and retail totalling 900,000 sqft.
The new buildings are carefully sited, articulated by a dynamic sequence of public spaces and squares which encourage exchange from one space to the next. The scale of the new buildings and associated spaces vary in order to relate to the varied context of surrounding buildings – from terraced houses to imposing mills.
In this way, the proposal positively responds to and contributes to the existing fabric, rejuvenating the site’s historical and architectural significance.