Brompton plans stilt bike factory with no new parking spaces

When I started seeing the headlines that Brompton, the UK-based folding bike maker, was building a new factory in some Kent county wetlands, I assumed an eco-scandal was brewing. . After all, from Apple’s “green” headquarters in car-dependent suburbs to Tesla’s vision of a solar-powered status quo, we have no shortage of supposedly climate-conscious companies making decisions about dubious designs and call them revolutionary.

In the case of the new Brompton plant, however, we could really see something very special. According to the architects at Hollaway Studio, the new factory will indeed be built on what they call an unused wetland – a strange term, given the number of species that live in wetlands. The impact of its physical footprint, however, will be minimized by erecting the buildings on stilts, and it will only be part of a larger local government project to turn the surrounding 100 acres into a reclaimed public nature reserve:

Positioned 2.2m [7 feet] above the wetlands, the building appears to float as it coexists with the wetlands below, allowing water levels to rise and fall throughout the year. This is facilitated by a reinforced ground plate, supported by foundation piles which also serve to draw heat from the ground.

Moving Brompton’s current factory to London is part of the company’s future ambition to produce over 200,000 bikes a year by 2027, so it’s somewhat fitting that the designs also feature a bike lane and pedestrian community that will allow employees and the public even a car-free way to visit the site:

The building is surrounded by a publicly accessible bike path that weaves in and out of the building, offering both unobstructed views of the site and multi-sensory experiences of factory processes along the route. . The journey ends on the roof, where there is a Brompton Museum, recreation areas and a communal canteen for workers and visitors.

And lest we think the integrated bike path is more of a tourist attraction than infrastructure, it’s worth noting that the company plans to add zero – yes, zero – new parking spaces as part of the new development. Instead, the cycle path will link directly to Ashford International station, suggesting it could become a destination not only for tourists and local cyclists, but also for international visitors.

Indeed, the writing of the project suggests that blurring the lines between visitors and employees is a central part of the vision, allowing visitors to see how Bromptons are made and providing transparency, education and even inspiration around what is a car-free. , low-impact industrial model might look like.

Here’s how Guy Hollaway, Senior Partner at Hollaway Studio, describes the concept:

“Our objective was to explore the question: what is the factory of the future? The challenge in designing this new sustainable factory for Brompton, located on a 100-acre wetland site, was to both rethink the factory concept while creating a symbiotic relationship between industry and nature. This ambitious project is truly revolutionary in its approach and aspires to serve as an example to demonstrate how the industry can embrace sustainable transport methods and create architecture that reflects the Brompton bicycle ethos.

Of course, transportation is only part of the sustainability puzzle. Just like the impact on local biodiversity. So it was good to see that the project will also feature aggressive energy efficiency measures, on-site renewables like solar and wind, and materials selected for their low embodied carbon content.

He really looks very pretty. And it’s a pleasure to see a project that thinks beyond flashy and sexy solar panels and other so-called “remarkable conservation” measures, and thinks rather deeply about how it fits into the world. environment and surrounding communities. As a former Brompton owner who still loves this brand very much, I’m already wondering if and when I might visit. Although the trip from here to North Carolina isn’t exactly carbon free!

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