This project intends to restore communal life and production in a city centre dominated historically by industry and currently by commerce. Leicester, which exists since Roman times, experienced a sudden growth at the start of the industrial revolution that transformed its urban fabric. In order to make space for new industrial buildings, housing was pushed to the outer city limits. This began a process of sprawl towards the end of the 19th Century that continues today, completely separating working from living – productive from reproductive space.
The project objective is twofold: It tackles the sprawling problem by bringing housing back to the centre as well as agricultural production in a city that is constantly pushing out the countryside. At the same time, it attempts to address the urban ‘hangover’ of the industrial revolution by using one existing abandoned factory building as a restaurant and the organisational link between housing and farm, and connecting the whole system with the city.
Three different programmes are strategically combined – a low-cost housing block, accommodating the new residents; a hydroponic-farming tower, where those residents will be able to sustain themselves by growing food; and a restaurant, through which residents will be able to sell their produce to visitors. Such a proposal allows us to think about the possible relationships of housing to farm, of farm and housing to restaurant, and about the whole as a new kind of community within Leicester.