Re-imagining a Collective Memory



Treforest, Park Street, Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales, CF37 1SL, United Kingdom

Project Description

An active collaboration of the local council and USW, focusing on the enlightenment of the local community regarding its industrial past, whilst strengthening the bonds between the situated town-gown.

The Project is part of Unit 6, land, an exploration of the existing 19thcentury Treforest Tin works, where one is set to re-imagine and re-develop within the social, political and cultural context of Treforest.  

The project is approached paying attention to the historic paradox of man-made and natural invasion upon the site. A forest was limited to create a factory, while with its abandonment in the 1980s, nature is finally ruling showing its power through the intense decay present. 

Treforest was founded as a village with sole purpose its industrial growth, but the decadence of the industrial power around the 1940s left the town lacking purpose and economic stability. On the contrary, today’s economy is structured around student life. These is a community segregation, a town gown dispute, where a local mining university has become a Welsh symbol for education, taking almost half of Treforest leaving residents unhappy and the community separated into two groups students and locals. At the same time the council hasn’t put attention on the education of the community concerning its industrial past. No historic buildings are shedding lighton the area’s rich industrial history leaving the residents uninformed and separated from the history and culture of their land.


Thus the purpose of the scheme is to resolve the community segregation by bringing those communities under one scheme, that actively educates and creates bonds between the Treforest populations.This is achieved by creating a distorted memory of the residents past through volumetric, material choices as well as historically thematic exhibits throughout the scheme. The building program focuses on the connection of the past present and potential future of the Treforest communities. Placing the scheme within the ruinous landscape will enable direct connection between the industrial focused exhibitions and factory itself, enabling people to feel closer to their land. Walking through the scheme one will have the opportunity to get a holistic experience, being educated about the industrial past, getting exposed to the untouched ruins, and collaborate in artefact learning and restoration. In such way, the local student communities will manage to feel included in community driven activities, while locals will have the opportunity to enlighten the younger populations of the rich knowledge they acquire through artefact restoration and active word of mouth. 


The building is placed connecting the two sides of the land, the forest and main road while the urban organisation focuses on a re-wilded nature, introducing and recreating the forest that was taken away. Moreover, material choices are used to complement the raw beauty of the masonry ruins rather than the added structures. Using local materials including stone and larch timber will decrease transportation costs and give a local character to the structure. Also, a prefabricated steel structure will enable minimal site destruction, element vital to protect the historic structure.


The proposal is thus deeply rooted on experiencing the scheme as a walk through time. Choreographing the experience promoting a nudge theory helps to generate fluid circulation while the existing window cavities and open pockets can intrigue visitors to explore and engage with their surroundings. From the first interaction to the site up until the end one gets to learn, observe, communicate and collaborate managing to use history as the media for community engagement.

Alice Vasiliki Pitsili


Year 3