In our holiday programme, we were fortunate to have a personal tour of the Fabric District with Rich Jennions, one of the stakeholders in the emerging vision for this area along with Suzy Jennions and Jason Abbott. The Fabric District takes its name from the local area’s textile heritage, and is located in the area between Islington and London Road.
Our first Saturday Design Session kicked off with tasking our participants with repurposing the public toilets into business spaces, and reinvigorating the surrounding area at Monument Place. Having already seen the space, the group were challenged with making designs that brought the building and landscaping area together, and creating new uses and designs that made sense for the local community and those from further afield.
The majority of groups chose a restaurant or café for at least one of the businesses. These were all focused on affordability rather than a high-end offer, with the view that it would be affordable for the local residents, market-place users and students.
Independent businesses also featured frequently. New fabric and material shops were inspired by the local history of the area, as was a small florist shop that could draw people in from the city centre and complement the stalls at the market.
Every group wanted to move away from the current landscaped area being mainly flat, open grass. The prevailing ideas were to introduce shapes and sections of greenery, seating and pathways to create an accessible way into the green space.
It was interesting to see in the first session how thoughtfully they took into account the needs of the existing community, so that they could make designs which improved the space whilst not alienating the people who use it everyday.
The key priorities of these designs were:
Thank you to our sponsors RIBA North for hosting this session!