The School of Architecture has a vital role to play in the city of Hull, says lecturer and practice director Bridget Hansford.
“The school is fundamental in terms of raising ambition,” she says. “It provides opportunities for the city to move forward with projects that challenge the status quo. Not only is that very useful for the city, it allows the city to sell its ideas to a wider audience. We can look beyond reactive ideas and build on the capacity within the city to think of new solutions.”
And her students come up with bold proposals that demonstrate the creative potential of architecture and the city.
Bridget has been an academic here at Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD) since the course was set up in 2009 but has taught since 1991 at universities including the original School of Architecture in Hull. She has been a practising architect since 1984 and is the co-director of an established practice in Beverley, Salt Architects and has won several industry and RIBA awards.
“It is an essential part of my practice that I teach and it is important to teach what I practice. It feeds both ways and the challenges of each make my practice and teaching more robust.”
Not only do Bridget’s undergraduates work in the city of Hull, regularly presenting their ideas to the city council, they also spend one year in practice, which includes employment at Salt Architects for some students. “Salt Architects is committed to the education of young people,” says Bridget.
With Salt Architects, Bridget and co-director Gary Hornsby, she has a broad portfolio of work, from domestic projects to community work, schools and third-sector organisations, such as social enterprises. Bridget demonstrates a commitment to experimental architecture while working with a social conscience and a sense of social responsibility in her own practice.
“I work two days a week at Hull School of Art and Design and the rest of my week is dedicated to practice, which is my research,” says Bridget. “We look at experimental building methods and building types working, for example, with social enterprises.”
Current experimental projects include the design of a sustainable floating café on a newly created lake, fish farm, educational and leisure buildings in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire. Being developed on the site of a contaminated landfill site, it poses an interesting challenge to Bridget and the Salt Architects team.
“It’s very interesting and it’s certainly a challenge,” she says. “It’s going to be an exemplar for what can be done on land such as this. It’s a sustainable project, using sustainable materials. We are working with Green Future Building, whose trainees are building the pontoon on which the café will be built – they’ve already built incredible dome structures that been filled with fish and algae on an adjacent site.”
Other notable projects include building a children’s centre in Wheeler Street, Hull, and a classroom for Densholme community farm in Great Hatfield, East Yorkshire, a social enterprise aimed at people with learning difficulties or mental health problems.
Salt Architects is also one of the York Diocese architects for Church of England schools in North and East Yorkshire. This provides Bridget with the opportunity to combine her architecture skills with landscape designing, working extensively with schoolchildren to develop their own ideas for their playground spaces and school grounds.
Bridget has a BA Hons Dip Arch and RIBA qualifications as an architect and as a landscape designer. Prior to setting up Salt Architects, her previous industry experience includes 10 years working as an associate architect in York, where she was responsible for prestigious, high-profile projects, such as Ripon College, York St John University and Betty’s cafes and tea rooms.