Overview

BCCF intends developing a Built Heritage Skills training facility. It will function independently for wider course development but will also work with the College of West Anglia on their proposed Access (Adult returner) and Degree programmes, as well as on a range of lower level also public access courses.

It will be taking over a barn at Home Farm on the Houghton Estate, West Norfolk for the Heritage Skills Centre. The first phase in a development would be the establishment of a Heritage Skills Centre for the practical skills side of the degree course and other courses and then hopefully space for the creation of student accommodation facilities as the second phase of the development.

Parking space is essential both for students and staff use as well as providing access for delivery of materials.

Contents

The building must, as far as possible be flexible in terms of allocation of workshop space because the skills being studied will vary throughout the academic year. Ideally, the main part of the building should be open plan to allow regular changes of configuration. This will be dependent upon sub-division for fire purposes – although any divisions should be clear for maximum visibility.

Space would be needed for individual workshop areas, a forge and possibly even a lecture space. Whatever the use, the textures and characters of such space should remain. Keeping the integrity and character of the building is important to align with the ethos of BCCF.

The space would need to contain:

  • Administrative office and Reception
  • Exhibition/Display area at, or near Reception
  • Library/samples store
  • Flexible use workshop areas
  • Toilet facilities
  • Locker/Changing space
  • Partially covered external workshop areas
  • Exterior space for large-scale working (such as timber frames) – but consideration to some form of canopy covering is not ruled out.
  • Lecture space
  • Small individual workshop areas.
  • Eating/rest area with kitchen facilities
  • Secure tools storage
  • External materials storage areas
  • Forge

Use

The building would be in use throughout the year for a wide variety of purposes from full practical elements of the Degree or Access courses, to work-experience, to day or weekend public taster courses. Group sizes will vary.

This mixing of course types is quite deliberate and is intended to enhance the sense of place together with the exchange of ideas. It will mean that age is no barrier to those using the facilities, and disability access and use must be considered as an integral part of the complex.

Services

It is likely that any existing services provisions will be limited in capacity, from power, to water to drainage, and so the ability to install the necessary supplies will be key to the effectiveness of the project.

Task lighting will be required throughout all workshop areas, as well as power for hand tools. It is not envisaged that major pieces of machinery will be installed as this will reduce the flexibility of the spaces. The concept of ‘plug and play’ must be adopted.
However, there should be a supply of water through the building accessible at sink points and through hose connections, and also drainage for washdown of the main spaces.

This is likely to impact on the type of luminaires and electrical points used throughout.
The use of green technology is encouraged in terms of solar or PV panels, and any internal systems relating to air temperature and quality.

Broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity are essentials.

Maintenance

The building will be a working operation during its life, and both wall and floor surfaces must be capable of straightforward repair or redecoration. Drainage systems must be fully accessible as silt build-up is guaranteed. Hosing down will not be unusual in the workshop spaces.

Light

It is expected that re-roofing will probably be necessary in an old building so the opportunity for increasing natural light levels should be taken where appropriate – without leading to over-heating.

Comfort

Dust will be an issue. Whilst personal protection will be provided generally, it would be advantageous to have one specific area only in which extraction will be available through a flexible, positionable, hose system.

Air quality is a consideration. Smell is not likely to be an issue (and may even enhance the experience) but a regular airflow through the building is advisable – either natural or mechanical.

Temperature in workshops is a contentious issue. Some people prefer to avoid being over-heated and to work in, frankly, cold conditions, but there will need to be some background heating for conditions to be tolerable.

Energy

We would like the building to be at least partially self-sufficient as regards energy demands. We are also aware that there could be consideration for improving the insulation of a building without changing its appearance.

Fire systems

Naturally we would expect the building to have a full detection and alarm system but it must be borne in mind that there may well be generation of dust at times, as well as heat from the forge, that may produce some challenges for such systems.

Signage

We would like a unified signage system throughout the building in an agreed colour and font. However, as far as possible, significant signs (including the external wall around the entrance) should employ hand-painted graphics on wall surfaces.

Principles

There is to be an over-riding principle to any work on a building, that repairs, and improvements must respect the underlying principles of BCCF and the courses that will run here. Materials should be of the best quality – so for example, a new roof covering would avoid cheap substitutes. The building will have to be a teaching tool in its own right, and the principles of honesty and integrity in Built Heritage repair and renovation which may be required should be reflected in the work done to renovate and re-purpose the building. This is not to rule out modern, contrasting interventions where appropriate. However, we do not want a pastiche, but something both in restoration and in modern interventions that strongly reflect the character of the buildings.

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