Bridget Hansford

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.

She says:

“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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

Gary Hornsby

Architecture is about feelings, not just buildings.”

These words demonstrate the thoughtful and creative process at the heart of the Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD) course.

For Gary Hornsby, design-led architecture is the key to giving his students a competitive edge. And his design-led practice and research as co-director and architect at RIBA award-winning Salt Architects – http://saltarchitects.co.uk/ –  is invaluable to his teaching.

Gary has a long association with architecture in the city. He studied and taught the subject at the former Hull School of Architecture; and has taught undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at several HE institutions.

AT HSAD, Gary says, not only does the programme allow great potential for creativity, but there is a genuine opportunity for this recently reinstated course to make a positive impact on the city.

“There is more ambition in Hull than in any other city I have taught,” he says. “What we’re trying to do is give students the opportunity to be more creative in terms of understanding the brief and the site. You will see a much wider range of projects here, all set in Hull and the surrounding area.”

Projects include the creation of a post-industrial park on the River Hull corridor and an urban strategy within the Old Town.

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“The idea is to give students the opportunity to be poetic in their response,” says Gary. “The emotional response people have to architecture is very important. We’re also pushing the space between the buildings – great cities have great spaces in between the buildings.”

This clear focus on the bigger picture, a sense of community and sustainability is also central to Gary’s practice. Salt Architects is, he says, one of the few design-led practices in East Yorkshire.

“Councils no longer have city planners,” says Gary. “We see that as an opportunity to have a vision for the city that nobody else is looking at. Two years ago, we did an audit of Beverley Road in Hull – one of the most under pressure conservation areas in the UK – which led to a Civic Society grant. Now, we have been asked to evaluate Whitefriargate in the city centre.

“All of our work has come through community groups or through competitions, which has led to good buildings.”

The Salt team won a RICS award for its SureStart building in Wheeler Street, Hull; a Civic Society award for its Pilots’ Office conversion in the city’s Old Town; and the East Riding chairman’s award for Anlaby House. A building on Whitby Marina netted a runner-up title in the Yorkshire Design Excellence awards and, in terms of research, the team is breaking new ground in terms of creative, sustainable buildings.

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“From a sustainability point of view, we are creating something out of nothing,” he says. “We’re doing some interesting work on seven or eight sites with Green Future Builders and Able Network, a social enterprise training scheme for excluded people.”

Projects include the creation of a four-acre fish farming lake, with a café floating on a concrete pontoon on a former landfill site; the conversion of buses into permanent, external classrooms at Swinton School; and the creation of classrooms at a school in Todmorden.

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Gary’s industry experience began at the age of 16, when he worked as a junior architectural technician at a practice in Hull; he spent four years combining work with study to gain an HNC in Building Construction; then a further four years as a technician. In the early 1980s, he gained his degree, postgraduate diploma and professional certification at Hull’s School of Architecture in Strand Close. He has been a partner at GD Frankish Partnership in Hull and later established Salt Architects with colleague Bridget Hansford. In 2008, he committed to the re-establishment of an Architecture programme in Hull, at HSAD.

He has strong links with architecture programmes in Europe and Malaysia and is a member of the Green Network, which promotes a sustainable approach to architecture. He has been a member of RIBA and the Architects Registration Board since 1989.

See more projects by Salt Architects.

Or find Gary on LinkedIn.