Save Park House!
ZandZ ECO BUILD PROJECT
SAVE PARK HOUSE
Update 17 Nov 2016
Eco Build Opportunity, Manchester England
+ Conservationists Caretaker opportunity + ELT Credit
WANTED; SKILLED ECO-PLASTERERS (and trainees), Bespoke CARPENTERS, CONSERVATION BRICKIES, ETC, plus others and …eager volunteers for grounds and feeding folk and media folk. Also need live-in caretakers.
X ECO RENOVATE
Help us save Park House, which could become the first Eco Land Trust property in the UK, and the headquarters for the Eco Land Trust.
The hope is to save this architecturally fascinating and beautiful house from being demolished, eco-restore it, and make it the home of conservationists who can use it to serve the local community, especially through community conservation within the huge park on which it sits.
Park House hangs over a cliffside rising out of Boggart Hole Clough in Manchester. The Clough, meaning steep sided wooded valley, is almost 200 acres of plunging ravines, park and woodland, and retains some ancient woodland where birdsong is rife. On the top of the Clough is an old man made lake with cafe, but all is tatty and is past it’s heyday. Beyond the Clough on one side are high rise flats, but some streets including Oak Bank Avenue still sport grand old architecture. This includes Park House.
But Park House could be demolished within a year, if it is not saved. Not because it is structurally unsound, which is not the case, but simply because it has been boarded and derelict for decades, and a couple of neighbours do not like the fact it has virtually grown it’s own woodland in it’s grounds. Most neighbours love the charming old house with its hexagonal turret, and would hate it to be replaced with a block of modern flats, which would destroy the beauty of the street … but aggressors make more noise than appreciators.
The council has given a year from Nov 2016, to either renovate Park House, or demolish it.
Park House was built in the early 1900’s by an adventurous architect. Embedded into a steep hillside, the house has a cavernous cellar with windows facing into the park, and it’s own entrance onto the street. Three stories high, including the cellar, the house has five sets of bay windows, two of which are within a hexagonal turret.
In the late 1900s the house was “modernised” by removing stone plinths and brick pillars at the front, for replacement by aluminium window frames. But this caused structural instability and fungal problems. An ugly high wooden fence was built around the house when the house became uninhabitable. It lay dormant for decades and changed hands without renovation, a couple of times until 2000.
New owners in 2000 - an ecoscientist couple with a young child, began the process of restoring the building to her former glory. The ugly fence was replaced with brick and reclaimed metal fencing. With a lot of support from the neighbours, the aluminium window frames at the front of the house were removed, stone plinths were cut, and installed with new pillars. But before new windows could be installed, tragedy hit the young family, the house was often uninhabited, and the council suddenly boarded up the building.
The single mum owner has done everything possible to keep up tax and building work payments on the house, without selling out to developers who would knock it down, waiting for the day she could pass the building into safe hands. Her hope now is to give Park House to the Eco Land Trust.
There is no option but to eco-renovate Park House to high conservation standards. Not just for aesthetics, but the practicalities of ensuring the continued safety of this tall building embedded and partly overhanging a near cliff face. It is a fabulous case of smart architectural engineering design for an almost impossible situation, including appropriate stonework and cleverly engineered structures. To survive well, it needs the original design to be enhanced, not replaced. There is much to learn from this building.
Park House will need renovation in three stages;
1. Sufficient renovation for temporary habitation for onsite caretaker, while a planning application is submitted for an extension for a bathroom and kitchen ( in simple design sympathetic to the original design)
2. External works made on three sides, including brickworks implemented for a scaffold friendly platform, conservation roofing, bespoke windows.
3. The renovation on one side built when planning is granted.
The building process will require eco-build skills including conservation skills such as plastering with traditional plaster. More modern plasters would dry out the brick and cause structural instability. Window frames need to be bespoke-made from reclaimed timber.
It is intended an eco-build course will be provided to participants, and that the eco-build process will be filmed for educational purposes. It might also be an opportunity for earning for earning ELT Credits for use when the right time comes.