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Vinyl Factory

The Old Vinyl Factory

2012 – Present

Don't stop the music – a story over 100 years in the making.

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Don't stop the music – a story over 100 years in the making.
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Strategy

When we first visited this 7-hectare site in Hayes, West London, in 2012, it was a characterless business park dominated by car parking. The Art Deco buildings were largely abandoned, the land was designated for employment, and there was strong objection to a change of use.

Location:
London, UK
Client:
U&I Group Plc
HUB Residential
Role:
Urban Designer, Architect and Landscape Architect
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The site was previously a characterless business park dominated by car parking

Working with the London Borough of Hillingdon and developers U+I, we were the masterplanners, the landscape architects for the whole site, and the architects for The Boiler House and The Music Box. We also developed detailed designs for other buildings, including The Powerhouse, the Gatefold Building, The Veneer Building and The Assembly Building, all of which were then taken forward by other architects.

As the home of His Master’s Voice and then EMI, Hayes had been the centre of the record-making universe. Our ambition was to celebrate the site’s extraordinary history and unlock the potential for a mixed-use neighbourhood with excellent transport links.

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Nipper the Dog, an emblem for "His Master's Voice"
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The site was once the home of His Majesty’s Voice and latterly EMI
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Our framework vision

The site had a previous consent for 144 homes, and our approach saw us take this number to 650. But we weren’t only interested in providing homes. With a new name, ‘The Old Vinyl Factory’, we would inject a sustainable mix of uses – including a cinema, academy, and pioneering research and design hub – in both new and rejuvenated existing buildings, all framed by vibrant and active public spaces. The mix of uses creates a campus-like atmosphere throughout the day and night.

Specificity

The Boiler House, which we completed in 2018, is home to 54 apartments and two commercial units, and reflects the steel and timber steam chimneys that stood in its place and once served the EMI Factory. The cluster of tapered volumes are clad in stainless steel shingles of varying finishes with a sculptural external staircase clad in corrugated orange steel. Allotments and seating areas on the roof encourage engagement and interaction between the residents.

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The Boiler House
The Boiler House

Car parking for the whole neighbourhood has been consolidated into The Music Box. We’ve taken our cue from the site’s music-making past so that this seven-storey building resonates with the history of the place, and the simple form has been brought to life with a perforated ‘Beatlemania’ metal façade depicting the famous photo of screaming fans at a Beatles concert. The car park provides a total of 424 parking bays, and an integrated substation supports 96 charging points for electric vehicles.

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The Music Box
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A sequence of spaces, including Gramophone Grove, Vinyl Square and Powerhouse Square, are part of our overall landscape design, which is critical in gluing together a diverse mix of buildings. We introduced a pedestrian spine, The Groove, to encourage people to walk from one end of the site to the other, and we designed a number of public art features – including large gramophone sculptures, a 20-foot sculpture of HMV’s Nipper the Dog, and concrete units in the shape of vinyl records – to celebrate the story of The Old Vinyl Factory throughout the site.

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Gramophone Grove
Some of the delivered public realm at The Old Vinyl Factory

Sustainability

The Boiler House is one of the largest private housing schemes in the UK to use a cross-laminated timber structure, and this contributes to its minimal carbon footprint. All apartments achieve Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, and a biodiverse mix of planting at ground level and on the stepped terraced roofs has achieved the highest BREEAM credits for new species and enhancement to ecological value. A management plan is in place to ensure the ongoing health of the planting.

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The Boiler House
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The Boiler House
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The Boiler House

Our strategy for the whole site is a carefully considered response to planning policy and broader sustainability issues, including long-term viability, affordable heating and adaptability. The original Powerhouse on the site has been transformed into a modern energy centre which will provide heat, hot water and power to the neighbourhood, with surplus energy being sold back to the grid.

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Our vision for the refurbished Power House
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The Power House had fallen into disrepair
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