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Interior design student devises plans to breathe new life into abandoned military fort

08 July 2015

Becki McGeorge

Rose takes a fresh look at Number 1, The Thames

An interior design student from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has come up with new plans to turn an abandoned military fort off the East Coast of Kent into a family attraction as part of her final year project.

Number 1, The Thames, also known as Grain Tower Battery, made headlines earlier this year when it went up for sale after being left unused after the Second World War. The uniquely shaped building sits on the estuary between the River Medway and the River Thames and can only be reached by boat or on foot when the tide is out.

Rose Peploe, a 27-year-old student from New Longton in Preston, has designed a whole new use for the space inspired by the community spirit of the village of Grain. Residents recently came together to protest against Boris Johnson’s plans to flatten the town to create a new Thames Estuary Airport.

Rose explained: “As the plans have just been abolished and the town have had to fight against these people trying to monopolise their land, I wanted to create something positive to do with the building to make the town proud of where they live. I wanted it to be a place where people could visit and children could go on school trips to learn about the surroundings.”

“I wanted to create something positive to do with the building to make the town proud of where they live.”

Her plan for the attraction includes a knowledge lab where visitors can learn all about the local wildlife and pin up their own photos to share their experiences with other guests. It also features state of the art interactive lighting technologies that are controlled by the changes in the elements outside.

Rose visited the site earlier in the year to conduct a creative site analysis where she collected samples from the site to inspire her designs.

She said: “I took multiple artefacts but I started focusing in on the oyster shells. I catalogued them and the story that arose was Metamorphosis. Metamorphosis means a forced change or state in the appearance for function, which is what has happened to this building over the years. So for an abstract representation of this, I forced the oyster shell through this change. I 3D printed it and took the forms that had come from the study to inspire the façade design around the building, as well as a lot of the lighting and surfaces inside the building where people can sit.”

“As I was good with design, finding computer programs was great for me because that’s how I was able to express and I believe to be a designer you don’t have to be an artist.”

After returning from Spain where she lived with her family for several years, mature student Rose decided to pursue her passion for design by enrolling on the BA (Hons) Interior Design course in her home city of Preston.

“I’ve always been quite particular about design and when I was younger I thought that I would want to apply it to Fashion” Rose said. “As I got older I realised that I didn’t want to be in that kind of industry and it was only when my husband began his journey into architecture that I realised that I wanted to design with buildings.”

Commenting on her experience of the course, the former Archbishop Temple High School pupil added: “If I look back to when I started the course, I wasn’t artistic in any form. Although some of the other students can draw and sketch beautifully, all of my sketches are really scribbly. As I was good with design, finding computer programs was great for me because that’s how I was able to express and I believe to be a designer you don’t have to be an artist.”