In March 2021 the Brickfield team were delighted to be awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £9,900 for Brickfield BUILD, a project that has enabled the team and their project partners to explore the relevance of the heritage craft of hand brickmaking in creating a more sustainable future.
Brickfield has a long-term goal to empower and enable communities to draw on the history and heritage of brickmaking in the region and build things that will improve their local environment and their feeling of belonging within it. Brickfield BUILD is an important step towards that goal.
Rosanna Martin, Brickfield’s artistic director says “I’m so excited to have the opportunity to bring the heritage of brickmaking in Cornwall to life with this new project and following the work we have done with John Osborne. It’s our first chance to explore what we can build with the bricks everyone has made, and the melting pot of ideas created by bringing the different groups together is going to be fascinating!”
The BUILD project has involved creating a diverse intergenerational network around the heritage craft of brickmaking that includes people with dementia, their families and carers, youth groups and youth workers, bricklaying students, building professionals and architecture students and lecturers, as well as members of the general public.
The core programme of activity involved working closely together with Falmouth University Architecture course leader Tom Ebdon, senior lecturer, Toby Carr and the Sensory Trust’s creative dementia expert, Ellie Robinson Carter. Together the project team developed and facilitated a co-design process between Falmouth’s Masters in Architecture students and The Happy Wanderers, an intergenerational dementia friendly walking group local to St Austell and supported by the Sensory Trust. The aim of this process was to come up with designs for new brick structures to be situated in the environment that would enhance the Happy Wanderers experience of walking together in clay country.
Working in teams the students designed creative activities for the Happy Wanderers that would give them the opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings and responses to walking in the landscape. Activity packs were sent by post and connections were developed through phone conversations.
The students incorporated the responses from the Happy Wanderers into their design development and at the end of this phase there were four proposals on the table. The project team had to make the tricky decision about which two of these would ahead to prototype stage in the BUILD week. This was a complex decision involving considerations of: the extent to which students had reflected on an incorporated participants ideas into their designs; structural viability; use of experimental and sustainable building methods; and last, but definitely not least, the likelihood of a team of students being physically able to build the structure in less than a week!
The first design concept selected was a four arched structure creating a dome shaped shelter and gathering space for users; the second was a seating concept involving two elongated curved forms rising gradually from the ground, providing protection from the wind and enabling users to sit facing each other while maintaining a view through the landscape.
In April 2021 the architecture students and staff came to work on site at Brickfield to learn hands on building skills in brickmaking, bricklaying and sustainable lime mortars and with the ultimate aim of working in teams to construct the two selected designs. They started the week walking in the landscape, learning about the history and heritage of brickmaking from John Osborne, and learning how to mix clay and hand make bricks. This was followed by a bricklaying workshop delivered by local builder and bricklover, Derren Wilson, and techncial demonstrations and a workshop on the use of lime in building construction delivered by the Cornish Lime Company.
On day 3 the students were able to start work on their protoype brick structures.