Kent architecture

‘Factory of the future’: Brompton plots UK’s biggest bike factory on Kent wetland

Folding bike maker Brompton this morning confirmed plans to build the UK’s biggest bike factory, a £100million facility in Ashford, Kent, which will be built on stilts above a restored wetland.

Following approval from Ashford County Council on Thursday, the company said it plans to open the doors to the new site in 2027, with the aim of growing its annual manufacturing capacity to less than 70,000 bikes at 200,000.

Brompton CEO Will Butler-Adams said the company expects demand for its bikes to continue to grow as cities move away from car culture and adopt new walking and cycling strategies. .

“There has been a global realization after the pandemic that we need to change the way we live in our cities, to design them around the people who live there, not the automobile,” he said. “Brompton has an important role to play in supporting this transition, but we need more space to innovate and create the products of the future.

Brompton said sustainability will be “at the heart” of its new facility, noting it aims to deliver a net gain in biodiversity across the entire site to challenge the traditional perception of manufacturing sites.

According to the plans, no new car parks will be built and a wide cycle and pedestrian lane will be built from the local station, with the aim of encouraging workers and visitors to arrive on foot and by bike.

To minimize the building’s energy consumption, Brompton said it would install “exceptional insulation”, rely on carbon-free solar and geothermal energy for electricity and heat, and use natural light and airflow to minimize energy consumption.

Construction of the plant will also adhere to strict sustainability standards, with reduced embodied carbon and responsibly sourced materials to ensure the building is resilient to climate impacts, the company said, noting that the project supports its goals of reduction of emissions aligned with 1.5C.

Meanwhile, 60 acres of the 100-acre site will be turned by Ashford Borough Council into a reclaimed public nature reserve, complete with a community cycleway and footpath network, he added.

Architect Guy Hollaway said the project was designed to explore the question of what the factory of the future should look like. “The challenge of designing this new sustainable factory for Brompton on a 100-acre wetland site was to both rethink the factory concept while creating a symbiotic relationship between industry and nature,” he said. -he declares. “This ambitious project is truly revolutionary in its approach and aspires to serve as an example to demonstrate how the industry can embrace sustainable transport methods and create architecture that reflects the ethos of Brompton bicycles.”

Brompton said he would work with Ashford Borough Council and Quinn Estates to bring the vision to life, investing in the local community through the creation of a skilled workforce, as well as using the museum and educational space on site to engage with local schools and universities.

The company’s current factory in west London will continue to operate until at least 2030, Brompton added.

Butler-Adams said Ashford was chosen as the location for its new site because of its close ties to the European continent and London. “London was the inspiration for the Brompton and our success is in large part due to our diverse and skilled staff who continue to nurture and grow our business,” he said. “By choosing Ashford, we can maintain this strong link with London and the UK, while being on the doorstep of Europe.”

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