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Concept designs (detail) by Stuart Bastik for Ramsden Business Park, a Barrow-by-Design pilot projects

Barrow-by-Design: Ramsden Business Park
‘Gateway to Britain’s Energy Coast’

Thematically; as the site is known as ‘The Gateway to Britain’s Energy Coast’, it seemed essential that any new build by the Borough Council should respond positively to the challenge of creating attractive, future focussed, highly energy efficient and sustainable buildings which incorporated appropriate cutting edge technologies wherever possible.

Starting from the Beginning

During an exciting and positive initial meeting the Design Team immediately identified the need to re-evaluate an existing rather generic schematic, in response to:

  • the unique opportunities offered by the rugged beauty of the site and its waterside location
  • the amenity value of the site in attracting local businesses, their workers and local communities, (both existing & potential)
  • the current and deepening economic downturn
  • the need to respond effectively to the threats posed by global warming.
Image gallery below:
Arial photograph of the site for redevelopment
Concept designs by Stuart Bastik for Ramsden Business Park

Ethics and aesthetics

Ethically and aesthetically it was felt important to respond to and enhance the existing historic character and natural ecology of this wildlife rich ‘brown-field’ ‘wasteland’ site:

To work with nature rather than attempting to control it: capitalising on and enhancing the site’s existing social and historic assets including WWII structures; a characterful boat club and adjacent allotment site; the relationship to the waterfront adjoining Walney Channel; the Port of Barrow Docks and their public amenity value for local people living in the nearby tenement flats. To create an environment which fully realised its potential to attract new forward thinking businesses to the area: ones which would make a significant and revitalising contribution to Barrow’s existing business and cultural ecology through diversifying and extending it.

It was clear that the current uncertain breathing space provided by the economic downturn presented an opportunity for a concise but thorough concept-design stage aimed at developing a socially integrated sustainable scheme; setting the pitch for further planned developments across the wider site: One which embodied the stated aims of a future Barrow-by-Design.


We agreed that we should aim to create a 21st century business environment worthy of Barrow’s future and its uniqueness. To that end it was felt that we should do whatever possible to encourage further development of the existing demand study as a key piece of research aimed at helping the Borough proactively court, and attract aspirational new businesses to the area with the offer of a high quality, energy efficient, ecological waterside development.

It was felt that if the Borough Council did not take the lead by demonstrating its commitment to forward thinking design and future standards it was unlikely that anyone else would.

At a second design team meeting Art Gene Associates presented a series of images of existing thematically interesting buildings in and around the site and from elsewhere which further illustrated the agreed approach.

We decided that Art Gene and Capita Symonds should undertake a joint site visit and subsequently develop some initial drawings.

Art Gene’s Stuart Bastik quickly developed a series of concept designs for a timber built, modular, prefabricated ecological business park which could be developed incrementally across the site in response to demand.

Four basic building forms which could be combined in infinite combinations formed the basis for the system. Each individual unit was suitable for new businesses being around 100sq m with variations achieved through the addition of optional cantilevered floors and exterior balconies affording fabulous views of the sea and the Islands of Barrow.

There seemed little sense in speculatively building 6500 m2 of industrial space when it was likely buildings may stand empty for months or even years prior to occupation. This view seemed to be reflected in the falling numbers of developers showing interest in the site.

Bastik designed four basic building shapes which combine in infinite variations. Units can be selectively glazed to create a site, plot and tenant responsive system; one capable of ‘respecting’ existing desire lines (lines of amenity) across the site and echoing the unsanctioned vernacular architecture of the nearby boat sheds and allotments. Each 100 m2 basic unit is suitable for a new or small business, whilst those needing a larger space could simply combine more units without negatively impacting on the site-scale as a whole. Variations could be achieved through the addition of optional cantilevered floors, walls and exterior balconies affording fabulous views of the sea and the islands of Barrow.

Images below (gallery and footer):
Concept designs by Stuart Bastik for Ramsden Business Park