The primary objective of our thesis was to reimagine the UK fashion industry by providing a viable closed-loop textile production system, which is ethical and sustainable. It acts as a critique of the garment industry, key issues of which are overconsumption, labour exploitation, and the devaluation of clothes.
Manchester has historic links to the cotton industry. Our project includes the regeneration of Medlock Mill, and proposes a future for the building that celebrates its heritage as a cotton mill. By locating this medium-scale industrial project within the urban realm, we aim to reconnect consumers with the textile production process, and increase understanding about its environmental costs.
The conceptual design of the project is based on the idea of “breaking the grid,” which represents dismantling the existing exploitative systems within the industry. We developed this concept by analysing the work of artists Annie Albers and Lubaina Himid.The massing of the project is based on breaking apart the form of Medlock Mill, representing the traditional industrial typology. This creates a fluid courtyard space inside the buildings, from where the public can visually connect to the recycling process. The tensile structure and knitted playground are tactile references to the function of the development. We have reimagined traditional factory chimneys, normally associated with air pollution, as part of our environmental strategy for natural ventilation.
Our project is educational but fun, attracting members of the public to the retail, playscape, and exhibition areas, and allowing them to engage with process of recycling. This will increase awareness among consumers about the impact of fashion on the planet, and we hope that, small though the intervention is, it will harness the growing momentum of the sustainable and ethical fashion movement. Workshops provided will teach people the skills to make, mend, or embellish their own clothes, and encourage creative participation by students at the University, and members of the wider public.
The buildings exhibit a variety of uses for waste fabric, including Fab-Bricks, and insulation made from denim. These are positioned where the public can see and touch them. Another reference to textiles in the buildings is the woven effect of the perforated brick façades. These materials have been optimised to diffuse lighting through the building.
Mr Jack Dunne
Dr. Katerina Antonopoulou