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Purcell was commissioned to convert the disused Building 17 for new use. The practice also reordered the Wheatcroft’s Wharf café on Cromford Canal. Essential repairs and maintenance were carried out to both the internal and external fabric of both buildings.

One of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution, Cromford Mills forms part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. 

Sir Richard Arkwright constructed the world’s first successful water powered cotton spinning mill at Cromford in 1771, combining traditional cottage weaving techniques with water power to industrialise the cotton cloth manufacturing industry.

The upper floors have been converted into open plan office space for small creative businesses. Building 17 has since been removed from Historic England’s ‘Buildings at risk register’.

The creative media centre on the upper floors will reflect the County Council and Development Agency research, consisting of small office suites with a central first floor reception facility, shared meeting rooms and other supporting accommodation.

The adaptive reuse of this building, which incorporates respectful and reversible interventions, addressed problems of contamination with innovative research. The result is a building with a social function that offers the perfect gateway to the World Heritage site of the Derwent Valley Mills.

Europa Nostra 2017 judging panel

The ground floor of Building 17 is now a welcoming visitor centre with interactive exhibitions and a holographic projection of Sir Richard Arkwright who enlightens visitors about his pioneering factory system. 

We converted the disused upper floor of the Wheatcroft’s Wharf café on the canal to increase the building capacity. The ground floor was redecorated and reordered to create a light contemporary interior to attract new customers. 

The design of the interiors had a clean finish with a simple colour palette. The steel and timber staircase provides a link to the site’s industrial heritage and the staircase design was as compact as possible whilst keeping it easy to use for customers.

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Project team