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Student has designs on historic site

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Heather Saunders has been nominated for a Lancashire Arts Festival Award

UCLan student develops an innovative way to bring one of Liverpool’s most iconic heritage assets back to life.

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) student has come up with an innovative way to bring one of Liverpool’s most iconic heritage assets back to life.

Heather Saunders, 22, has developed a concept which would see the historic Tobacco Warehouse – believed to be the largest brick building in the world – transformed into a Tea Room ‘experience.’

Her vision, which she sets out in her final year project for the University, involves turning the Grade II listed mega-structure into a series of restaurant, café and bar areas, a glass teahouse, a tea museum and exhibitions, a tea chamber, ingredients room, tea-growing gardens and tasting room.

She adds that the size of the building – made from 27 million bricks – means there would be scope to bring the manufacture of tea to Liverpool.

The designs are inspired by the rich import and export history of the city’s Stanley Docks, and ‘experience’ tours such as the Guinness Storehouse brewery experience in Dublin. 

Heather, who will graduate from UCLan with a BA (Hons) in Interior Design next month, has been nominated for a Lancashire Arts Festival Award, honouring the best projects from final year architecture, design, fashion, fine art, and media and performance students.

I decided to create something around tea because historically it was an important Liverpool import and its cultural influence remains relevant today.

She said: “I was so surprised to be nominated for the Lancashire Arts Festival Award but it’s lovely to be recognised. I’m especially proud because I struggled to come up with an idea in the beginning. I had a rough plan to design something where people felt like they were entering another world, but I didn’t have a location or a concept.

“I’m from Liverpool so I wanted a location in the city and the Tobacco Warehouse is such a fascinating building. I decided to create something around tea because historically it was an important Liverpool import and its cultural influence remains relevant today.”

If Heather’s idea was put into practice, she would like it to become a base for the ‘Tea With Strangers’ initiative, a project which aims to make cities feel more like neighbourhoods by encouraging strangers to come together over tea.

And although in reality the Tobacco Warehouse has been earmarked for redevelopment into luxury apartments, the Tea Room Experience is something Heather would like to bring to life one day.

Her immediate focus, however, is to secure a graduate job in interior design, with a number of promising opportunities already lined up.

Heather said: “I’ve had a few interviews and there’s one I’m particularly excited about, but I don’t want to jinx anything.

“I’m really looking forward to what the future holds but I’ll miss my time at UCLan. I feel like studying here was meant to be, from the moment I visited the campus for the first time, it just felt right.

“I’ve loved the freedom and the flexibility we’ve been given, and my tutors – Jason Kearns, Pam Eccles and Alex Devol – have been fantastic. They all bring something completely different to the course and I felt connected to them straight away.”

Heather’s work has been under the spotlight at UCLan’s Lancashire Arts Festival, showcasing students’ creative work. For more information visit https://lancashireartsfestival.co.uk/

Press Office | 13 June 2017