“This proposal consists of a space dedicated to the traditions of artisan and craftsmanship related to fabrics in Sailortown. Ireland has a centuries’-old relationship with working with fabrics, both as a folk tradition, such as knitting or embroidery or in Belfast’s industrial past, with the Linen Mills. According to research made with former residents of Sailortown, during the sixties, there weren’t many facilities dedicated to women in the area, who had limited life options: whether to work at home or in the Linen Mills. Even with the industrialization of Belfast in the 19th century, the ancient techniques of knitting, weaving tapestries, and hand embroidery survived throughout centuries by the hands of those women who would pass the traditions of their crafts to the younger generations.
This proposal aims to provide a proper workspace so these crafts can continue being passed forward to the next generations, and allowing local artisans to use an appropriate infrastructure for each kind of the following techniques: Sewing, Tapestry weaving, Linen weaving, Tweed weaving, Knitting, Embroidery, Printing in fabrics. To attend to these needs, the building is divided into the following sections: an exhibition area of local artisans works, an educational area that consists of a classroom, auditorium, and a small reference library with computer stations, workshops, support and administration area. Located in Dock Street, in what today is one of the areas with most pedestrian activity in Sailortown because of St Joseph’s Church, McKenna’s Pub and the American bar, this proposal also includes spaces dedicated to social activity and commerce, to contribute to the recovery of the livelihood of the neighbourhood dynamics. For this purpose, the following spaces are proposed: a cafeteria, a bazaar area with dynamic, flexible stalls that can be used by the artisans who use the workshops or other local small commerce. To transmit the mixed history of traditional crafts and industry, an intricate laminated timber structure is used combined to the shape of conventional industrial architecture clad in a polycarbonate building envelope, protecting and at the same time, exposing the fabric to the pedestrians transiting in the street”