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Competition: Mango Vinyl Hub, Latvia

Cesis Municipality in Latvia has announced an open international contest to convert a disused industrial building into a vinyl record factory (Deadline: 19 April)

The competition, organised by Bee Breeders, seeks creative and experimental concepts to transform a former tin-foil factory into a mixed-use complex for producing and selling vinyl records in the centre of historic Cesis.

The project – dubbed Mango Vinyl Hub – will start on site later this year, and is planned to open in 2018. Participants are encouraged to harness the entire post-industrial site to create facilities for the manufacture, packing and storage of vinyl alongside office space, a loading zone, lounge and a staff changing room.

Cēsis, Latvia

Cēsis, Latvia

Contest site

According to the brief: ‘The building should be considered as the first stage in redeveloping the block by transforming it into a creative park, acting as an anchor to draw interest and investment from other parties.

‘In this regard, participants are also tasked with considering the Mango Vinyl Hub in a wider context, by proposing ideas and visions for the potential further development of the block in the future.

Cesis, in north-east Latvia, was a hill fort settlement which grew into a large town featuring a stone castle at the centre of the country’s east-west trade routes during the medieval era.

Cēsis, Latvia

Cēsis, Latvia

Contest site

Today Cesis’ castle ruins, holy spring and other surviving medieval buildings have become a destination for tourists. The town was nominated for European Capital of Culture 2014 but missed out to nearby Riga.

The Mango Vinyl Hub project aims to revitalise the local economy and bring music enthusiasts and record collectors from across the Baltic region to Cesis. Vinyl has witnessed a renaissance in recent years, with around 900,000 vinyl records sold in the UK in 2014.

Alongside the Vinyl factory, proposals should include a café, storage area and exhibition space, as well as a co-working area featuring up to 50 open plan workstations, two meeting rooms, an events room, creative studio, common room, kitchen and toilets. Proposals may also use the former factory’s large roof space and introduce additional functions and public uses to the site.

Digital submissions must include up to four A2-sized landscape boards featuring sketches, renderings, plans, sections, elevations, diagrams and textual explanations of proposals.

The winning team – set to be announced on 31 May – will receive a $3,000 USD first place prize. A second place prize of $1,500, third place prize of $500, student prize of $500, a ‘Big Picture Award’ worth $500 and six honourable mentions will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is at 23:59 GMT on 19 April

Fee

Early bird registration from 2 February to 1 March: $90 for professionals, $70 for students
Advance registration from 2 March to 22 March: $120 for professionals, $100 for students
Last minute registration from 23 March to 19 April: $140 for professionals, $120 for students

Contact details

Email: hello@beebreeders.com

View the competition website for more information

Red Tree Business Centre case study: Q&A with Collective Architecture

The Glasgow-based practice discusses lessons learned converting a disused building into a £3.2 million business centre in Bridgeton

How did you set about transforming the building into a building for small and medium sized enterprises?

Red Tree Business Centre is situated at Bridgeton Cross, and creates a visually innovative and vibrant office building, for SME companies, at an important gateway into Glasgow city centre. The project forms an integral part of Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company’s innovative regeneration programme that helped to transform the East End of Glasgow ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Collective Architecture was commissioned to investigate options for transforming two adjacent 1960s buildings which, while largely occupied by successful local shops at ground floor level, had gradually become dilapidated and redundant at first and second floor level. One of the key objectives was to create economic opportunities through the reuse of the vacant parts of the buildings and to create affordable office accommodation helping to secure the future of these dilapidated buildings.

Bridgeton, Glasgow

Bridgeton, Glasgow

Source: Image by Andew Lee

Red Tree Business Centre by Collective Architecture

The site is tightly bounded to the north by Bridgeton railway station, and benefits from regular rail services to Glasgow Central railway station, just three minutes away. The buildings form a significant street frontage to Dalmarnock Road to the south, and are visually prominent from both London Road and Bridgeton Railway Station to the north. The poor visual condition of the buildings viewed from these two key transport routes into Glasgow created a negative impression of the area hindering economic development.

An early appraisal explored several strategic options incorporating varying degrees of demolition and new build. However, due to several key factors, including the costs and risks involved in demolition and rebuilding so close to the railway station, the successfully operating local businesses at street level, and the flexibility offered by the existing concrete frame construction, the case was made for retrofitting.

Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness?

The upper storeys of the existing buildings have been developed into high-specification offices, and the introduction of a linear black form framing the shop units below, creates a strong regulated facade back to Dalmarnock Road. A key challenge was to renovate the existing buildings while ensuring that the successful local businesses at ground-floor level were kept operational at all times, to create a much improved gateway to the recently refurbished Bridgeton Cross by Gillespies for Clyde Gateway.

Working with two contemporary, but significantly different buildings presented several challenges but also many opportunities. The differing floor levels and ceiling heights combined with varying depth of plan along the site was highly compatible with the brief to create a variety of office sizes. As well as varying in area, a diversity of plan shapes has been influenced by the existing building envelope and the result is a suite of office spaces with a natural variance in size and shape that will hopefully appeal to a wider range of tenants than a more regulated new-build office might.

Bridgeton, Glasgow

Bridgeton, Glasgow

Source: Image by Andew Lee

Red Tree Business Centre by Collective Architecture

The existing buildings had single-glazed windows and uninsulated brick cavity walls with a corresponding poor thermal and acoustic performance. The need to replace the majority of the south facade and overclad the roof gave opportunities for greatly improved thermal and acoustic performance, as well as transforming the building’s appearance. Replacement windows aided and allowed control of window opening size, allowing a natural ventilation strategy to be implemented for the majority of the building.

An upper quartile Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) was sought, with the building achieving a B+ rating upon completion. This was achieved through insulating all walls and super-insulating the roof above the existing structure, where this did not affect ceiling heights or room area. A strategic decision was made early on to maximise natural ventilation where-ever possible – namely in the shallower plan areas and mixed mode ventilation and full mechanical to the deeper plan areas. A small solar thermal array, good building management control systems and intelligent lighting all help to reduce the energy use of the building. Reuse of the existing structure with suitable repairs has also reduced the impact of the development over a demolition and new-build option.

The highly visible rear elevation was identified as a key elevation at an early stage due to its visual prominence from the railway station and key transport route of London Road. The largely blank elevation has been carefully balanced with the introduction of a lighting installation and a carefully commissioned art work.

Collective Architecture, in collaboration with artist Toby Paterson, developed a graphical treatment that relates to the local area’s history of weaving and dyeing, while considering the context of red brick and salmon sandstone tenements, to create a façade that both harmonises with the neighbouring buildings and context but at the same time creates a strong individual presence for the building within the regeneration of the East End of Glasgow.

As well as the difficulties of developing this site through demolition and new-build, the retrofitting solution on this project has brought many advantages. Key among these possibilities are the advantages to the local community. The existing successful businesses at ground floor have all been retained intact. As a direct result of the refurbishment of the offices above, the shop units have upgraded their shop fronts, some for the first time in 30 years, with financial assistance from Clyde Gateway URC and design assistance provided by Collective Architecture.

Our client, Clyde Gateway, is delighted with the finished building and the benefits that retrofitting have brought. They note ‘the whole redevelopment approach has created a unique, high quality, sustainable development which is now generating positive economic benefits for Bridgeton. These are all factors which could not have been achieved to the same level with a new build on the same site’

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a factory and co-working space?

We would suggest that the process should begin with research and an investigation of the current models and if possible getting first-hand knowledge of how they perform in actual use. When designing Red Tree one of the key experiences we had was visiting several similar building types with our client and talking to the owners of the buildings and building users and then discussing and agreeing with our client the approach we should adopt.

We would also recommend thinking about the types of use that are likely, while keeping one eye on the possibility that these uses may change over times.

Adaptability is one of the key issues when speculating about the potential needs of unknown users. Certain layout and forms are more suited to future subdivision or conversely future amalgamation of spaces or expansion. Testing out layouts and spaces with this in mind can create a more sustainable building. A variety of unit sizes creates an inherent flexibility; small business that expand can move to larger spaces while remaining within the building.

Bridgeton, Glasgow

Bridgeton, Glasgow

Source: Image by Andew Lee

Red Tree Business Centre by Collective Architecture

With the main working spaces potentially changing over time with different users and working practices it is worth focusing on the elements which are more static. At Red Tree we focused most on the entrance, the circulation and the communal meeting areas.

The entrance provides the shop front or façade for small businesses, and will directly affect how their businesses are perceived. At Red Tree we used a much higher spec of finish to this one area and worked with an artist on the colours to elevate this key space. The circulation should be efficient to be economic but, especially in a large building, it is also the space where informal contact between co-workers can be encouraged. At Red Tree we created a varied circulation route across three levels, which connected a string of informal and formal meeting spaces. These have proven to be successful with their spatial variety and location around the building. These range from discrete benches and window seats, to informal lunch areas and formal meeting rooms. They give the users a variety of stages on which to carry out the variety of interactions from informal in house discussions, chance meetings with other co-workers to formal client presentation and contractual meetings.

If the co-working space is speculative then the architecture and design can play an important role in creating a brand or image for the building. As small businesses this can be an important aide to their identity when building up their businesses.

Good design and innovative spaces can help not only make the working experience pleasurable for workers but can encourage the fostering of connections and business relationships. It can help communication by creating the right context for differing levels of communication and it can positively reinforce the identity of new and small businesses.