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"The century is no longer about expanding cities but rather deepening territories"
(Sébastien Marot, 2010)
This practice-based research seeks to create a research-led design strategy encouraging future development and sustainable design within a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My focus is the town of Belper in the Derwent Valley, an area currently under pressure from diverse and conflicting socio-economic forces due to the post-industrial decline of the cotton manufacturing industry. My research aims to generate a coherent design model for Belper that fits into town's historical context, drawing from theoretical investigations of alternative urbanism and heritage studies, alongside extensive first-hand investigations of its architectural heritage and urban fabric.
As an example of the pioneering period of the Industrial Revolution, Belper's identity is defined by its overall form and its relationship to the industrial landscape and the broader agricultural landscape. It is essential that these relationships should be definite and recognisable. However, abandonment of large factory buildings and closure of many warehouses and garages have left behind vast, derelict land and a bizarre landscape that needs to be remediated. This is particularly evident in Meadows edge area, where major gaps disrupt the overall continuity of town's form. Recent proposals take a piecemeal design approach, focusing only on specific problem areas instead of generating an overarching strategy for the development of the town as an extension of Derwent Valley WHS.
My hypothesis is that the new design can recognise, reinforce, and enhance the distinctive characteristics of the historic built environment while upgrading it for the 21st century. My innovative approach regards the site as a palimpsest, a concept based on alternative urban theories that seek to uncover the ‘deep structure' of a place as a foundation for place-specific design. This involves extensive and focused research of the existing layers of the historic built environment and its cultural significance, the natural environment, the social landscape, and the economic forces competing over the above. Knitting together the new and the existing, my research-led design proposal seeks to promote appropriate and viable mixed-use development that repair and upgrade Belper's existing urban grain while recognising the evolving nature of its historic character. It aims to set a vision and strategic framework to guide future development of Belper for the next 10-20 years and improve spatial and physical relationships between all parts of the town.
I am an architect and a practice-based researcher with interests in architecture, urban design, heritage, and cultural studies. Since 2004, I have been involved in a wide range of architectural projects internationally, looking at how to strengthen the links between heritage, identity, and place. I have lectured and served as a guest critic for design studios and my academic work has been published in numerous magazines and journals in Britain and Turkey.
For the last eight years, I have been undertaking research on UNESCO World Heritage Sites, investigating how design practice can be used as a tool to support and maintain the cultural history of WHS while improving their socio-economic potential.
My practice explores ways to reconsider the design through addressing questions of transformation and preservation and going beyond the commonly held view of heritage assets as untouchable relics.
‘Creating Balance Between Transformation and Preservation within UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Belper as a Case Study' in Sustainable City 2019: 13th International Conference on Urban Regeneration and Sustainability, Wessex Institute and Polytechnic University of Valencia, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain, 1-3 October 2019
‘Memory as Landmark, Landmark as Memory: Mending the fabric of the Sites of Collective Memory' in Design Research for Change [DR4C] Showcase, London Design Festival, London, 19-22 September 2019
‘Working with the Post-Industrial Legacy: The Case of Belper' in 3th International Conference on Cities' Identity through Architecture and Arts, International Experts for Research Enrichment and Knowledge Exchange (IEREK), University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy, 11-13 September 2019
‘Reading the Palimpsest' in International Conference on The Memory of Place and Place of Memory, London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research (LCIR), St Ann's College, University of Oxford, Oxford, 22-23 June 2019
‘Responding the Context: Palimpsestuous Design' in International Conference on Urban Studies: Realities, Alternatives and Possibilities, London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research (LCIR), Birkbeck College, University of London, London, 11 May 2019
‘(Re)constructed memory, Mnemonic landscape' in Living Research: The Urgency of Arts, National Association for Fine Arts Education (NAFAE), Royal College of Arts, London, 15 March 2019
‘Transformation versus Preservation: The Case of Belper' in International Conference on Tangible – Intangible Heritage(s): An Interplay of Design, Social and Cultural Critiques of the Built Environment, Architecture Media Politics Society (AMPS), University of East London, London, 12-15 June 2018
‘Belper: Urban Landscape and Memory' in Evolution Exhibition, London Doctoral Design Centre (LDoc), London Design Festival, London, 20-23 September 2018
PGR Poster event, Kingston University, London, 6- 7 April 2017
‘Work in Progress' PGR exhibition, Kingston University, London, 3- 7 April 2017