On a previously derelict 17-acre site that was once home to the EMI factory, a one-of-a-kind employment-led neighbourhood has taken shape, creating up to 4,000 new jobs and a hub for small and medium sized enterprises. Whilst the site enjoys excellent transport connections, and new Crossrail connections, it was missing an identity. After extensive investigation into the morphology of the place it was renamed ‘The Old Vinyl Factory’. The discovery of an original site plan revealed the rich underlying narrative and enabled the evolution of the place to be analysed. A sustainable mix of uses was injected in both new and rejuvenated existing buildings, all framed by vibrant and active public spaces. The mix of uses creates a campus-like atmosphere throughout the day. The home of His Master’s Voice and then EMI, Hayes had been the centre of the record-making universe. Our ambition was to celebrate the site’s extraordinary history and unlock the potential for a mixed-use neighbourhood with excellent transport links.
It was at this site that the famous HMV gramophones were produced and EMI records were pressed. The landscape design focuses on creating a sequence of characterful open spaces that celebrate the sites history as the former EMI factory. The key public spaces include Gramophone Grove, Powerhouse Square, Cabinet Grove, and Vinyl Square. These generous public spaces are linked by a new pedestrian route called ‘the Groove’ that traverses the centre of the site connecting building plots and new open space.
It was important that the rich history of the Old Vinyl Factory was captured within the design of the public realm. Art features, including large gramophone sculptures, a 20ft sculpture of the HMV Dog ‘Nipper’, and custom concrete units that reflect Vinyl Records, all helped capture this history to create a fun and site specific public realm. The design also celebrates the achievements of inventor Alan Dower Blumlein who was one of the most prolific British inventors of the twentieth century, making major contributions in sound recording, telecommunications, television and radar. Eight precision crafted metal icons have been inlaid onto custom pavers in Vinyl Square, near the site of the former EMI research facility that Blumlein worked in. All public spaces are also named after former factory buildings that were found in each specific location.
The public realm at the Old Vinyl Factory stitches together a number of architectural plots, ensuring consistency across the framework. With over 270 new trees being planted, connected green infrastructure ensures new ecosystems and wildlife corridors through a site that previously had little biodiversity value. This new planting helps to mitigate climate change, reduce air pollution, sustainably manage drainage and increase ecological biodiversity. Through each phase of the development the volume of sustainable urban planting was increased to help address these challenges.
Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Architecture: Studio Egret West
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Alan Baxter Associates, Gravity Lighting
Design year: 2012 – 2018
Year Built: 2019
Photography: Jack Hobhouse, Jarrell Goh, Studio Egret West
Manufacturer of urban equipment: Omos