Built around 1800, Gibson Mill is a National Trust property nestling in the heart of the beautiful valley of Hardcastle Crags. Being one of the first generation of mills of the Industrial Revolution, Gibson Mill has been brought back to life as a facility for visitors and the local community. Due to its remote location, and lack of 20th century mains services, this ground breaking project has been renovated as a model of sustainable development, being run with minimum impact on its environment.
The team at William Birch Completely restored and converted the Grade II Listed mill, to create a visitor centre for educational and interpretation of the building’s associated era. The sustainable technology included – photovoltaic and hydro generation, composting and leach-field sewage treatment, biomass boilers, wool fleece insulation and hillside springs for drinking water.
As a multi-award winning project, the judging panel for the Building Magazine’s Sustainable Building Award stated:-
“Could this possibly be the most challenging design brief ever? Overhaul an isolated, abandoned mill in West Yorkshire to be carbon neutral and handle 100,000 visitors each year without connecting to any national grids using fossil fuels – only renewable resources available on site. By a cunning combination of wood-burning boilers, sheeps’ wool and newspaper insulation, solar energy and hydro power – from the original turbine no less – William Birch and Eco Arc Architects managed to deliver exactly what the National Trust wanted. They were so grateful they called it “..a beacon for how we all lead our lives in a more frugal and sustainable way”.
So what made Gibson Mill the winner?
- Heating by Biomass boiler using timber from the Estate
- Electricity from photovoltaic and hydro generation with back-up batteries
- Drinking water from a spring in the hillside
- Insulation with sheeps’ wool and newspaper
- Waste-treatment with composting toilets and a leach field
- One of the first hand-powered disabled lifts
- Reusing the exisitng building and building materials to save resources.