Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London (UAL) is collaborating with Hayatsu Architects and Grizedale Arts on the Coniston Coppermines Copper Project and The Road project for The Ruskin Museum.
Takeshi Hayatsu, Hayatsu Architects, led a Unit 3 design studio for the cohort of MArch year 1 – 27 students - with Spatial Practices staff, Gregory Ross and Carlotta Novella. They collaborated on the design and fabrication of two timber structures – an information kiosk and a community bread oven. A workshop was set up over the summer at Central Saint Martins to carry out the build ready for planning approval. The aim was to install the structures at the Ruskin Museum and the Coniston Institute in October 2017.
The Road at Coniston is a community engagement and interpretation project. In 1874, John Ruskin got his Oxford University students road-building to promote notions such as working for a greater good and satisfaction through labour. Those that took part went on to become some of the most significant social reformers of the Victorian period, and included Oscar Wilde. The road remains half-finished to this day.
The collaboration updates Ruskin’s endeavours, creating new amenities to connect the community with the Institute and Museum and with the heritage landscape of the Coppermines valley beyond. A new space for education, community cohesion and heritage, it marks the 200th anniversary of Ruskin’s birth and the 140th anniversary of Ruskin’s move to Coniston and his involvement with the village and copper industry.
The information kiosk tells the story of the copper mines and is situated in front of the Ruskin Museum, with the community bread oven used by local people for events at the Coniston Institute. The contemporary structures pay tribute to their contexts with a cladding of handcrafted copper shingles and charred timber roofing made in collaboration with local community groups.
In the spirit of collective making and the meaning of place and material, The Road brings together local people alongside established craft workers and historians as well as M ARCH Architecture students from Central Saint Martins led by Takeshi Hayatsu from Hayatsu Architects to create these structures and, hopefully, a lasting sense of co-ownership.
The Road continues to 2019, with further participatory building projects and events. The kiosk and oven are the first elements, announcing the intention to turn the Museum and Institute outwards through the transformation of the road into public realm amenity space. This new public thoroughfare will serve to connect Coniston village to the Coppermines walking route through a series of interventions including the resurfacing of the road in handmade tiles and pedestrian elements such as signage, lighting and furniture.
The project ambition is for small manufacturing and making to take place directly on site and bring production back to this place once again. These elements together will form a pedestrian route and make possible external social use on the doorstep of the Museum and Institute, bringing existing activities and events outside and making room for new possibilities.
The project is part of a larger archaeological restoration and interpretation project funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund. This heritage project draws on and engages local people in the local history, impact and interpretation of the Coppermines. The project will be documented and shared for the benefit of the local community and visitors, providing a new insight into the rich mining history of the south Lakes.
Reaching back over four centuries, the Coniston Coppermines and Penny Rigg Mill sites spread across 57 hectares in the south west of the Lake District National Park below The Old Man of Coniston. At its peak in the nineteenth century, Coppermines Valley employed around 600 people in the extraction, preparation and transportation of copper ore. The Heritage Lottery funding focuses on conserving over 150 items across ten different structures at the two sites.
The Heritage Lottery Fund project and The Road are partnerships between the Lake District National Park, land owners, Ruskin Museum, YHA Coniston, Grizedale Arts, Central Saint Martins, UAL and Cumbria Amenity Trust Mining History Society.
The larch timber was generously donated by the Scottish sawmill and timber distributor James Jones & Sons from their sustainably harvested forests in Scotland.
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