An Old Dundee Mill to Become One of Largest Creative Spaces in Britain

Set to be transformed into ‘one of the largest creative spaces in the UK, West Ward Works, a 19th-century mill in Dundee is to welcome its first residents later this year.

The adaptive reuse of 200,000 sq ft building will bolster Dundee’s artistic credentials ahead of the opening of the V&A in 2018. It sits on Guthrie Street, close to the city’s university and architecture school.

‘This exciting project will build on Dundee’s incredible track record of design-led regeneration,’ says David Cook, the project’s recently-appointed director. ‘The next phase of its development will demonstrate the demand for this venture and the potential economic, social and cultural impacts for the city and beyond.’

The space, which was originally constructed as Dundee’s first fireproof mill in 1806, was bought by DC Thomson, who published children’s comic Beano, in the 1950s and turned into a printing press. At its height, more than five million books were printed every year, the building has been empty following its closure in 2010 until the inauural Dundee Design Festival in May, 2016.

‘West Ward played a key role in delivering the UNESCO City of Design programme when it was used to host Dundee’s first design festival,’ says Stewart Murdoch, director of leisure and communities at Dundee City Council.

During the inaugural Dundee Design Festival, West Ward Works was transformed into three galleries, (cinema, a café and a 400-seat auditorium). The building will host the second edition of the festival in May this year before work begins to turn it into a permanent creative hub.

 To manage the project, a charitable trust will be established, and will be delivered in phases. Although its future configuration is yet to be confirmed, but possibilities include incorporating business incubators and an innovation centre, following research by Bryan Beattie of Creative Services. With fundraising underway, the project has been accepted into the £1.84bn Tay Cities Deal Programme.

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