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Ekho Studio transforms former textile mill into modern workspace

Victoria Mill’s legacy weaves seamlessly into the new to create a flexible workspace in the heart of Macclesfield.

29/08/2023

2 min read

Ekho Studio transforms former textile mill into modern workspace

At Macclesfield’s grade II listed Victoria Mill, Ekho Studio has created a future-facing new space for healthcare clients Inizio Medical, designed to be a ‘beacon of change’ for post-pandemic staff. Set within an early 19 century building, the workspace joins the town’s Silk Road regeneration area – which has seen an abundance of former textile mills repurposed as contemporary offices.

Throughout the project, Ekho Studio sought to draw upon the building’s industrial history and incorporate links to this through materiality and form. Macclesfield and the surrounding area are visually full of layered textures, dramatic forms and close links to the river, which flows directly past the Mill. All these elements were used to influence the scheme’s material palette and design decisions – revealing the rich red brick of the mill and to exposing the original ceilings and structural columns to add character and bring a sense of volume back into the spaces. The warmth of the brick is enhanced by the choice of new finishes throughout, from textured upholstery to lighting and furniture details that nod to the textile industry and weaving process: a cluster of circular Camira Lucia lights and woven-texture wool and metal pendant Bon Bon lights from Hay.

“As the red brick was a given for retained exposure, we began with that,” explains Ekho’s Ellie Crum. “This was not a client who wanted an over-literal 3D implementation of their branding colours in any case, which meant we were free to find the best colourways to work with the red of the brick.”

The reconfigured ground floor area is now a multi-functional space, ‘The Hub’, providing areas for all the team to gather informally for social and Town Hall events, as well as for meeting and individual working as required. Flexible, reconfigurable furniture arrangements were key to this multi-purpose approach – which also incorporated an industrial aesthetic. Floor-to-ceiling wall screens serve to divide the open space and feature geometric, circular indents on some of the panels in an abstracted reference to silk buttons. The Hub’s phone booths feature perforated plywood doors and acoustically-wrapped interiors, with all four walls of the ground floor Hub also treated with acoustic felt to offset the volume and height of the space.

Wooden ceiling beams have been newly sanded and treated, and tiling across the rear wall has a weave effect, based on a textile-stitching concept. Plywood screens on the ground floor are semi open with a solid section at the bottom with the wood kept unstained – with the same material use on the upper floor teapoints – to look as natural as possible.

“From the outside, Victoria Mill had very much retained its historic and high-impact presence,” comments Ekho’s founding partner Rachel Withey, “but there was an immediate disconnect as soon as you went inside. The interior had been completely boxed over and made into a fairly generic white-box space, which in truth could have been located in any type of building. There was no relationship at all. We immediately felt that was a great shame and that the concealed steel columns and over-painted brickwork should be restored, revealed – and celebrated.”

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