Nottingham was once the centre of the world's lace trade and the building served as the international headquarters of Birkin & Co. for over 100 years. Since then, the building has been refurbished into creative studio space and our landlords, Spenbeck, wanted to uncover and share the history of the building with their tenants and the local community.
100 years of history
The Birkin family had owned and operated out of the building for more than 100 years, so there were a lot of stories and artefacts to uncover. We would need to work with the team at Spenbeck to appropriately organise and showcase this history.
Sparking the imagination
While the exterior of the Birkin Building is much the same as it was in the 19th century, the interior layout has undergone huge change in order to work for the many businesses that call it home. Therefore it would be important to find creative ways to help people understand how the building used to look and function.
Low ongoing cost
As a passion project, it was important that the cost of keeping the archive online was as low as possible. We would need to work with open-source technology and services with featured-reduced free plans.
Using recent floor plans, photographs and the knowledge of former Birkin employees, we worked with local architecture practice, Jackson-Crane to create a 3D model of the building as it was in 1950s.
To give some attention to the artefacts we'd found during our research we placed some of them with the 3D model before creating a 'walkthrough' video of each floor of the building. We then made these videos interactive by adding timely links to further information about each artefact.
Archive of artefacts
During our research we'd collected photographs and information about a lot of artefacts from private collections, including at Newstead Abbey. It wasn't feasible to add every artefact to the 3D model and so we built a simple archive to share these items with the website's users.
Static, fast and hosted for free
The simplicity of the website meant that we could easily build and administer it using a static site generator like Jekyll. This not only meant we were building on the power of open source , but could also host the website for free on Github. And a happy side effect of generating a static website is that it's super-secure and lightning-fast.
See the finished product at: https://thebirkinbuilding.co.uk/