Where is the project located - please enter full address and postcode?
47 Guildford Street, Luton. LU1
Who is the developer/client of the project?
The Culture Trust Luton
Describe the context of this project and how it contributes positively to the wider place in 250 words max. and please upload an image of the project in its wider context or a drawing that best situates the project in its location.
Hat Works (47 Guildford Street, Luton) was a former Hat Factory now adapted into a creative work, show and share space (pic - Hat Works Hand-over April 2021). Prominently positioned on the main pedestrian route between Luton station and the shopping centre, Hat Works was a sad memory of industrial decline and area deterioration last occupied in 2006 as a factory. The Culture Trust charity purchased the derelict building in 2017 and carefully transformed it into creative work, study and show spaces for young entrepreneurs (2017-21). Hat Works now provides a beacon of hope and inspiration as part of a growing cultural cluster of creative workspaces, arts venues and galleries called the Hat District.
Hat Works is a Grade II listed building and is the oldest former Hat factory in Luton. This 3-storey property, with a distinct façade of Luton grey bricks, stucco dressings and a Welsh slate roof is located in the Plaiters Lea Conservation area and was built between 1840 and 1850. Surviving deeds show it was originally a domestic dwelling and so this building has been adapted from home to factory to creative workspace. Newly complete (April 2021), Hat Works is emerging to be the creative industry engine room of the growing ecology. The Hat District is considered to be the best-located creative cluster in the UK due to its proximity to Luton station (21 mins rail to/from London) and 10 mins to Luton Airport.
How does this project make use of an existing structure, place or building in a creative way? 250 words max. Please attach an image of the project that supports your statement.
The Culture Trust redevelopment of this former hat factory has taken four years to complete with design team Fleet Architects, YOU&ME and Neville Special Project Construction.
The Creativity of this adaptation lies in how the finished building promotes a modern and heritage narrative. An example of this is how the contemporary stairwell slices diagonally through three floors, former doors and reveals historic features, stories of fire-damaged and scarred walls (pic 2 – New Stair well slice through). This has created a remarkable and playful transition for users passing upwards through the building to the workshops, studios and workspaces and describes how the building has survived for 150 years. On the top floor a new roof window cleverly introduces light into this otherwise internal artificially-lit space. A further example of new glazing is in the Member Lounge (pic Member Lounge light & shadow). Taking the cross hatched engineering brick floor as reference the roof light now casts long beams of natural light at angles across the walls and floor and creates an uplifting and inspiring space.
How will this project continue to evolve or enable future flexibility and adaptation? 250 words max. Please attach an image of the project that supports your statement.
This thoughtful adaptive reuse project has a business model that ensures income will protect the qualities of the building to a high standard for years to come. The Culture Trust charity is pioneering the growth of a not-for-profit area revitalisation through the Hat District. The Culture Trust owns the Hat Works freehold and so will be able to safeguard a cultural and creative use in the heart of Luton town centre long in to the future irrespective of land/property prices increase.
The Hat Works project was designed to encourage progression and movement, and so as creative entrepreneurs works from ground-floor workspaces in Hat Works up to the top floor, they will then move to ‘step-up’ spaces in sister buildings in the Hat District (Hat House and Hat Factory) (Pic Hat Works Studio with Hat House through window). The needs of new creatives is important and so the spaces can be re-organised and reconfigured to meet the new creative industry start-up/micro-business needs. Importantly though (and as a measure of this project’s success) is the upward and then outward movement of users so that they can grow their creative industry into a successful enterprise.
Please share any data or figures that support how your entry has made a positive environmental, economic and social impact on the wider place. You may also attach an additional image or document to support your entry.
Economically Hat Works provides 2400sqft of new creative and digital workspace for entrepreneurs, innovators and micro-businesses in an inspiring heritage environment. It provides use for up to 75 members per day and promotes micro business start-ups. Hat Works provides learning and skills opportunities and networks that engage over 1000 people a year.
Environmentally, the Trust and design team has taken every step to recycle and reuse materials found in the building and re-fit for use. Operationally Hat works is situated next to major public transport; this enables users to walk or ride to work which contributes towards local sustainability goals.
Socially the Hat District pulsates with cultural activity (pre covid!). The Culture Trust commissions artists and delivers events and activities, which add town centre vibrancy and build local pride. In Luton’s purple flag assessment, The Hat District was noted for making an important contribution to the night-time economy (pic Event in Hat District, HF launch outside Hat Works).