In 2019, 501 Conservation Areas were listed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, 14 of which are located in our local City of Nottingham. With the protections afforded Conservation Areas as places of defined special historical interest it seems contradictory that so many fall into states of such disrepair. Because of this, I would like to present what I enjoy about the Lace Market Conservation Area presently at risk in Nottingham to raise awareness for why it should be appreciated, preserved and sustained for future generations of our city to appreciate. The Lace Market Conservation Area is also the home of Conception Architects’ headquarters.
A Very Brief History of the Lace Market
The area we now know as the Lace Market was part of the pre-conquest Saxon burh of Nottingham and has been a key part of Nottingham’s heritage ever since its foundation as a settlement. By the 17th and 18th centuries, the Lace Market was an important residential area for the affluent inhabitants of the town, characterised by grand houses often enriched by extensive grounds. With the emergence of the lace trade as an internationally thriving industry at the turn of the 19th century, in addition to the extension of Nottingham’s borough and suburbs, wealthy industrialists flocked to the area in order to build new warehouses and showrooms of the very highest architectural merit. The resulting character of the Lace Market is distinguished by these beautiful and imposing Victorian brick buildings densely bordering narrow, winding streets.
Despite the multitude of towering student housing blocks that have appeared across Nottingham in recent years, the Lace Market has retained an impressively high number of buildings, over 119 of which are listed, originating from its rich history and development as a centre of the city’s lace industry. The area also remains at the heart of Nottingham’s Creative Quarter. This has created a palpable connection between our own experiences, senses and activities with those of past communities.
Furthermore, the aesthetic qualities of the Lace Market’s built heritage are undeniable. Each building was clearly intended to display the importance of its owner, resulting in a display of the best Victorian styles, materials and manufacturers –and often the product of the most popular architects of the time.
My Favourite Elements
One such architect and perhaps the most celebrated in Nottingham during the Victorian period is Thomas Chambers Hine, who was responsible for most of my favourite buildings within the Lace Market Conservation Area, including the Birkin Building and the Adams Building which is now part of Nottingham College.
The Heritage at Risk Register 2019 records the Lace Market as being in a Very Bad condition, though it is improving. We hope that this trend will be supported by the Heart of Nottingham Heritage Action Zone project, which aims to conserve, enhance and promote the city’s heritage whilst supporting community regeneration.
Working in Nottingham for the past 5 years, I have noticed that there is a lack of green spaces, in the centre. There has been many occasions, where I would have loved to relax in a park, amongst the trees in my Lunch break, but instead greeted with the bustling streets of Nottingham. Of course there is the market square, which is great for people watching, but the concrete and congestion of people crossing over each others paths makes me feel trapped. This does not provide the escapism we need after a busy day at work, or afternoon shopping.
Exciting new projects are beginning in Nottingham, such as the redevelopment of Nottinghams Boots Island whichis costing 900 Million, and Intu Broadmarsh costing 1.1 billion. These are huge spaces and there is lots of opportunity to build green spaces, or atrium spaces into the designs. Broadmarsh could create a city park, to provide a space for people to relax within the city, and connect with the spaces a lot more. There is evidence that providing green spaces in urban environments, can promote physical and mental heath and reduce morbility. This could really benefit the well being of people working in Nottingham, and offer them stress aliviation just from having contact with nature for a few minutes a day. Professionals have suggested that having contact with green spaces can trigger positive effects for people with high stress levels by shifting them to a more positive emotional state (Ulrich 1983; Ulrich et al. 1991). The psychological benefits are endless, and benefiting peoples mental state could have great effects for businesses in Nottingham.
If it is not possible to create a large green space in Nottingham, maybe atrium spaces with light wells could be designed within buildings. This will inject buildings with a bit of nature, and promote mental well being in the workplace. After looking at examples online I have noticed that smaller spaces have used small walls as planters, and used the height of the plants as the room divide. Living walls also seems to be popular in small spaces, because one wall can be adapted easily with a variation of plants, to transform a space.
Small atrium spaces provide natural light and other elements into office environments. This will allow people to connect to nature, while working within the office, which will benefit their well being.