Designed to celebrate Bradford City of Culture 2025, the Bradford Beacon was conceived as an architectural embodiment of unity and sustainability—bringing the people of Bradford together ‘Under One Roof’. It presents a visually bold and inviting structure designed to elicit joy, curiosity, and community engagement.
The brief required a performing arts space that could be erected on three different sites across the city during the course of the year, necessitating design for disassembly approach. The design takes a typical roof truss as a starting point, reimagining this standardised component in an innovative manner. Designed for reuse, reassembly and long-term reconfiguration, the proposal integrates circularity and legacy from the very beginning.
The construction and assembly of the Beacon was envisioned as a contemporary 'barn raising,' harking back to a time when rural communities came together to construct barns collectively. Working with engineers Simple Works, the structure was designed to be collectively assembled on the ground, and raised up into its final form. The raising of the Beacon would be a symbolic celebration of its arrival in each community.
The three-sided plan and the in-the-round spatial arrangement is intentionally non-hierarchical, with a configuration fosters inclusivity, and provides equitable access for all. The absence of hierarchy creates a space where no single perspective or community holds dominance, aligning with the values of decolonial spatial design.
To create a proposal that truly resonated with the community, we worked with Bradford-based specialists Street Space to engage with local residents from the outset. From these dialogues we drew inspiration from the concept of the 'melā,' and the use of modular building components found in events like the Kumbh Mela in India. Co-design was embedded in the proposal, with the brightly coloured external cladding to be co-created with the communities that the Beacon was to appear within.
The design concept celebrates the idea of Bradford as a village and aims to create a space that feels like home to its residents. With 30 roof trusses, symbolising the 30 wards of Bradford, and three wings, mirroring the three communities it will serve, the Beacon comes together as a welcoming abode for all, inviting everyone to come 'Under One Roof.'
Bradford City of Culture 2025