helen holme nook

project code: pfh_2020_033  design: 2020   budget: £700k – £1m

“The site was owned by the mill owner we worked for at the time, my parents purchased the land with the intention to build on it, to create their retirement bungalow so they could remain on the street they have always lived on.”


This greenbelt site is curtilage land of three former mills all owned by the same mill merchant family of the area, the Whitworth’s, since then two of the mills have been mostly demolished, the third has been converted into a cottage, whilst the dam that powered the mills is now a fishing pond for the local angling club.

The site’s connection to the areas industrial heritage was something we wanted to reflect within the design, as the clients also worked as a seamstress in the mills, it made this narrative not only important to the site and its heritage but also to the clients.

The design of the new build structures were a hybrid typology symbolic of the mill chimneys and north light roofs common to surviving mills in the area that were also built by and belong to the Whitworth’s family. We want to design homes that captured the rich industrial history of the site and its surroundings.

The site was within a known wildlife corridor so biodiversity for all was something that we placed significance on and designed a landscape that was diverse with trees, bushes, wildflower gardens, green corridors, community growing areas and ponds. The aim was to build on 20% of the site and to better the biodiversity of the other 80% of the site.

We wanted the proposed homes to emulate the former mills, we proposed that the basements would be swimming pools that were heated sustainably using ground source heat pumps, the warm air from the pool room would then be recycled using air source heat pumps to supply the homes above. Using the warm pool’s air, it’s ‘steam’, to help heat the homes is reflective of how the mills once used the fishing pond dam to generate steam to power cloth wheels.

The proposal aimed to provide two forever homes on a dilapidated parcel of land, that are steeped in biodiversity gains, community benefit, and sustainable. Providing more than what was being taken away.