Blaenavon Ironworks is designated as a Scheduled Monument of national importance. The site is set within the heart of a World Heritage Site, both geographically and by nature of the site’s significance as a rare and technically important industrial landmark.
During the 19th Century and in ‘full swing’, Blaenavon Ironworks was a busy, noisy, and unpleasant workplace. Under Cadw’s guardianship, the gentle tranquillity of the site in the 21st Century is an altogether different attraction, presenting an interpretation challenge for the Design Team.
As lead consultant acting as both the conservation Architect and Civil Engineer, Castria directly appointed and coordinated a multidisciplinary team of specialists to deliver the project. Working with the Archaeologist, Ecologist, topographic surveyors and electrical engineering consultant, Castria’s team investigated and reported upon the sensitive site including several practical issues presented in Cadw’s initial brief. The existing loose ‘slag’ surfacing (obtained for reuse from power station waste) restricts accessibility and its surface water ‘run-off’ has a slight acidity. Along with other site drainage issues, this contributes to the decay of buried rail tracks across the site. Furthermore, these tracks could not be easily interpreted as part of Blaenavon’s industrial story.
Under the project management of Castria’s conservation architect, best practice heritage principles were applied during assessment of the survey data we were able to gather. This information was used to inform our intervention proposals, including how to appropriately reinterpret the rail tracks and sensitively resurface the site. During the design development stage, we recognised that the external areas were not realising their commercial potential. Our proposal to provide of an adaptable outdoor events space received the full support of our client.
Under Castria’s project management, the regeneration proposals for Blaenavon Ironworks offers successful results through collaboration. We were able to utilise the knowledge, skills, and experience of our design team, and work together with a selection of specialist professional consultants. The outcome is a low impact yet exciting scheme that carefully presents adaptable, inclusive, and sustainable design interventions, improves the visitor experience, and enhances a highly significant and sensitive heritage landmark.