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Heritage Centre, Melton Mowbray

The Heritage Gateway and Community Archive is an explorational piece that investigates how Architecture can respond to the needs of society whilst lessening the schemes impact on the ecosystems of our planet, and deriving value as an investment in the preservation of our shared heritage. The site on Burton Street had been derelict for a number of years, and is presently being used as a carpark; sub-optimally for such a prestigious site in Melton’s urban fabric.

What is sustainability in Architecture?  In answering this question one might immediately think of the environmental impact of buildings; the materials that go into them, the energy consumed to run them and the lifespan of the building.  This is, however, a narrow view.  Authentic Sustainability encompasses much more than merely environmental impact.  Instead, the holistic impact of architecture; on the environment, the economy and most importantly people, society and culture, must be considered.

The Heritage Gateway and Community Archive is one such exploration in how Architecture can respond to the needs of society, as it strives to identify and maintain its cultural identity, to lessen the impact of how our buildings “touch” the ecosystems of our planet, and to derive value as an investment in the preservation of our shared heritage.

The site chosen is the Car-Park at the rear of Burton Street; a site that will be familiar with Meltonites and one with a tumultuous history of rejected planning applications, underinvestment,  and yet at the same time a key link in a culturally sensitive part of Melton Mowbray adjacent to the route of the former Kings Highway.

The scheme sought to re-establish the linkages that join the heart of Melton Mowbray, the Market, with this historical route, giving direction and purpose to the space.  Melton has a rich history that Jack Brownlow identified in his book “Melton Mowbray: Queen of the Shires”, noting that many Meltonites may not be aware of the pivotal role Melton has had throughout the history, from Bronze Age, to the English Civil War and even to the present day.  By providing a secure location, close to the central functions of Melton, an environment in which these cultural links to the past may be conserved, explored and made available to the public is formed, enhancing social and cultural sustainability within.

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