International Ceramics Centre (Advanced Ceramics Campus)
NEA was appointed by Staffordshire University and Arts Council England to carry out a Feasibility Study and Viability Assessment for a proposed International Ceramics Centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The City is known worldwide as The Potteries and was one of the engines of the Industrial Revolution – and the birthplace of iconic brands such as Wedgwood and Spode. Now, Stoke-on-Trent is bouncing back after a period of industrial decline: an energetic and ambitious university sector; exciting plans for cultural regeneration (including a strong, shortlisted bid to be UK City of Culture); innovative rapidly growing high-tech companies; popular designer-makers and a burgeoning creative scene (including the Clay Foundation, who deliver the renowned British Ceramics Biennial) are all combining to reinvent the city as a great place to live, work and study.
As we went through our stakeholder consultative process, we worked increasingly closely with a partnership group comprising the British Ceramic Confederation, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, and Lucideon – world-leading pioneers in advanced ceramics technology. We were then tasked with producing a report for the Business Secretary highlighting the opportunities the exist within the Stoke-on-Trent ceramics cluster for joining up cultural and heritage ceramics with cutting-edge innovation in materials science. This thinking was incorporated as a case study in the UK Industrial Strategy (Dec 2017), which states (p. 224):
“This partnership has developed an ambitious proposal for an Advanced Ceramics Campus that combines technical innovation, creativity and commercialisation with the skills needed for the next generation of engineers in the Midlands Engine and beyond. This demonstrates the potential to reimagine and reinvent local industries.”
We were subsequently commissioned by Staffordshire University, on behalf of the partnership, to take forward those proposals to the next stage, including developing the operational model and the business case, consulting and garnering local support, developing the building concept and designs – working with Feilden Clegg Badley Studios – and pursuing funding routes for the International Ceramics Centre.
It is envisaged that the International Ceramics Centre will be a new, globally significant cultural facility, championing the contribution of ceramics to Stoke-on-Trent, UK and world cultures; inspiring people to learn about, appreciate and make contemporary ceramics; forging new and unexpected collisions between ceramics and other sectors; and stimulating innovation and growth through ceramics design and production. The Centre will be a catalytic element of the proposed £90m Ceramic Campus, where research into and commercialisation of pioneering advanced ceramics will consolidate the UK’s global leadership in this fast-growing field.