ArchitectLevitate Architecture and Design Studio
ClientLeicester City Council
ContractorWilliam Anelay Limited
An at-risk former wool mill, badly damaged by fire four years ago, has been resurrected as a landmark commercial development on Leicester’s riverside and a showcase for Crittall Windows.
The Friar’s Mill project, a £6million regeneration scheme financed by Leicester City Council and the European Regional Development Fund, saved the Grade II listed buildings that had stood derelict and empty since 2005 and then suffered a very destructive arson attack in 2012.
Risen from the ashes is a development that provides a collection of 15 workspaces, managed by the East Midlands Chamber and already largely occupied since practical completion just a few months ago.
The main building, the Donisthorpe Factory, now boasts Crittall Corporate W20 steel windows, complementing the former mill’s internal cast iron columns and structural beams.
“The old factory building had timber windows, dating from the 1980s and many of these were lost as a result of the fire and others were damaged,” says Sarah Earney of London-based Levitate Architecture and Design Studio.
“We wanted to put in metal framed windows because we thought this was a better fit for this historic building. Old photographs showed that cast iron windows had been used in an adjacent building on the site so there was a historic precedent for this.”
She adds: “The Crittall Corporate W20 windows suited the industrial feel of the building. They work well.”
The local authority’s conservation officer was also happy to accept the steel-framed windows, specified double-glazed for the project. Crittall supplied the windows in bespoke sizes to match the building’s original window openings.
Levitate’s design ethos was to strip back modern alterations and services so as to reveal the historic spaces and features of the site and add in discrete new elements that complement the building.
Situated on the banks of the River Soar Friar’s Mill is Leicester’s oldest wool mill dating from the time that the textile industry thrived locally. The spacious interiors provide modern, high quality, creative workspaces that are seen as a valued addition to the city’s existing portfolio.