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The Factory Cooperage, Royal William Yard, Plymouth.

A regeneration project comprising the refurbishment of Grade I Listed buildings to create studio space for 100 artists, together with workshops, education and seminar spaces, is underway at the Factory Cooperage buildings, at Royal William Yard, Plymouth.

The Factory Cooperage comprises two buildings – a central and a perimeter building, with half of the perimeter building being occupied by the new venue which is to be known as Ocean Studios. This will comprise studio spaces including both individual and open plan studios, together with a gallery space, administration areas and workshops, including glass finishing, kilns, a pottery workshop and a printing room.

In addition, Ocean Studios will also have two education spaces, which will host seminars and conferences, as well as an exhibition/retail space that will provide opportunities for artists to sell their work.

Construction Managers for the project are EaseManage; Architects are Gillespie Yunnie Architects and Project Managers, Quantity Surveyors and CDM Co-ordinators are Ward Williams Associates. In addition, Jubb Consulting are the Structural Engineers and the Services Engineering is being carried out by Hoare Lea.

The Factory Cooperage, Royal William Yard, Plymouth.

Darrel Coltrini of Ward Williams Associates told Premier Construction:

“The Royal William Yard was originally a Royal Naval victualling yard and the buildings there were built between 1826 and 1835 on a site of approximately 16 acres. The Navy eventually handed the yard to Plymouth City Council, which then leased it to Urban Splash, who have been converting various buildings there into residential and commercial developments.”

The project started on site in June 2014 and is due to be completed in May 2015. Currently groundworks are underway (half of the yard is made up ground reclaimed from Plymouth Sound, so ground conditions vary along the length of the building), along with a significant portion of the repairs to the historic stonework

The building is of two storeys with a cast iron column open colonnade running along one side. This will become the gallery space and will incorporate the original limestone slab floor. This space will be enclosed by frameless glass walling running the whole length of the colonnade.

“This is quite a complex listed historical building, so the project has presented some logistical challenges said Darrel Coltrini.

The Factory Cooperage, Royal William Yard, Plymouth.

“However this is a very interesting project for me since I trained as a conservation architect and always find it fascinating to work on historic buildings,” he added.

In addition to the restrictions imposed by the building’s listed status, other challenges to the contract programme include restrictions on delivery times and site noise levels, due to the close proximity of Urban Splash’s new residential and commercial developments.

In keeping with its landmark city location, the project is geared to becoming a centre recognised as an outstanding facility that attracts exhibitions and residencies by internationally renowned artists.

Ocean Studios will be an asset to the community and a space for craft and creativity – from art to knitting.

Leigh Mason, Business Development Director of Ocean Studios said:

“Ocean Studios will be of national and regional significance and unlock economic and cultural value for decades to come.”

The Factory Cooperage, Royal William Yard, Plymouth.

Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Tudor Evans said:

“We’re supporting this fantastic project and helping to bring together the different elements of funding because we believe in its potential to create jobs, skills and economic growth in Plymouth. As a co-operative Council we are working with people to make great ideas become a reality. Ocean Studios and the creative sector are a key priority sector for the city’s economy.”

Chris Garcia, Chief Executive of the Heart of the South West LEP said:

“We are delighted to be supporting Ocean Studios development through our Growing Places Fund, which will bring much needed space and support to the creative sector in Plymouth, but also help graduates establish a foothold in the industry. There is huge potential for this project to be a catalyst for good across the city, nurturing our home grown talent and equipping people with the skills to run a successful business.”

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