Glass Futures, St Helens Opens
Following an innovative multi-partnered public private funding structure, formulated by developer Network Space, the £54m Glass Futures facility in St Helens opened in June. The new global centre of excellence will support the glass industry to pioneer new ways of making carbon neutral glass.
The development has seen the successful regeneration of the former United Glass site and, once fitted-out, will home an experimental furnace and container glass production line alongside office, training and laboratory space. It will also allow for the future installation of a float glass production line. The facility will be used to deliver industry and government-backed Research & Development projects focused on decarbonising glass production and will also provide a platform for the industry to test and trial their own commercial ideas.
We acted as Architects for the scheme alongside a specialist team of consultants. The client team comprised an innovative partnership between Network Space, Glass Futures, the global glass supply chain, St Helens MBC, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and UKRI (UK Research and Innovation). The facility was built by Bowmer & Kirkland.
Our design proposals emerged from in-depth discussions with the building’s end user and focused on accommodating the unique functions of the building, whilst providing flexibility to accommodate change in, and growth of, the internal processes and activities.
The aim of the 165,000 sqft building was to act as an innovation hub. In response, we have carefully planned manufacturing functions alongside labs, offices, and co-working space, creating an ecosystem for collaboration and advancement in the industry. An accessible walkway surrounding the research area adds to the offer, enabling educational tours for visitors in the future.
Externally, elevations have been carefully considered in relation to Glass Futures’ desire for natural light into the process areas. The entrance atrium spans the full height of the office to maximise natural light and showcase the glass industry facility contained within to the wider area.
We’re incredibly proud of our work on this pioneering building and look forward to seeing the building become fully operational in 2024.