Blackburn is Open Live Project

Blackburn is Open

Our staff and students have worked on a range of projects around the regeneration of Blackburn town centre.

Carolyn Butterworth and her MArch studio have partnered with cultural planner, Claire Tymon, since 2005 in a series of design research projects in six Pennine Lancashire towns. Following this close collaboration the students were invited to work with arts-led regeneration programme ‘Blackburn is Open’ from its launch in 2012. The aim was for the students’ innovative and creative ideas to benefit the regeneration of Blackburn town centre.

Blackburn Remade The collaboration in Blackburn has had the following impact:

  • As a direct result of the ReCreate Blackburn Live Project, Blackburn is Open have secured £700k capital funding to realise a new Maker Space in Blackburn town centre
  • Blackburn with Darwen Council adopted Live Project ReCreate Blackburn proposals as best practice within a new town centre business plan
  • The urban wayfinding proposals from the ReCreate Blackburn Live Project have been implemented
  • Town centre public exhibition of students’ work with an audience of around 750
  • Book ‘Blackburn ReMade’, distributed across the UK to policy makers and practitioners
  • Blackburn Urban Room partners with SSoA’s Urban Room, Live Works, in the development of best practice in this area
  • Creative Capital Live Project is being used to attract capital funding for Festival of Making and development of empty buildings in the town centre
  • Ongoing development of opportunities for graduates on Live Works projects that are developing from student collaborations in Blackburn

Claire said “Working in partnership with SSoA through Carolyn Butterworth’s studio for the past ten years has provided me with invaluable resource and evidence to advocate the impact of engaging creativity in regeneration schemes. Not only does the work with the students increase fresh thinking and innovative ideas, their execution and presentation, both in exhibitions, publications and engagement activities is to an incredible high standard.”

This partnership has given students the opportunity to work with local councils, housing associations, regeneration agencies, arts organisations, local businesses, creative practitioners and local people. The collaboration has enabled students to develop design research that is having a visible impact. It is a powerful experience for students to see their work and proposals being used to shape a better future for the town.

Blackburn is Open now considers the Sheffield School of Architecture as long-term key partners in their aim to improve Blackburn town centre and together we continue to develop a model where useful ideas can be produced through Live Projects, design studio and Live Works.

The Blackburn is Open team is an excellent client for students in that they are creative practitioners themselves. Blackburn is Open operates in a context of dwindling public funding and so the wealth of ideas and research that students bring to the town is invaluable. The town benefits from a level of high quality creative input it would not be able to achieve any other way and students learn to test their ideas through real-life experience.


ReCreate Blackburn: 2012 Live Project with MArch and MA in Architectural Design students, mentor Carolyn Butterworth

Studio Live Works: 2012/13 Design Studio with MArch and MA in Architectural Design students, tutors Carolyn Butterworth and Ellen Page

Blackburn Urban Room: 2014 exhibition with MArch students and Carolyn Butterworth

Creative Capital: 2015 Live Project with MArch students, mentor Carolyn Butterworth

Project partners

Carolyn Butterworth and Ellen Page

35 MArch students

16 MA in Architectural Design students

Claire Tymon, Blackburn is Open

Wayne Hemingway

Officers from Blackburn with Darwen Council

Creative Lancashire