The Factory – The Mulliez Foundation

Thesis project 

When the textile industry generates architecture

Introduction : Due to the collapse of the textile industry in the twentieth century, Roubaix had to consider both heritage architectural and urban planning’s constraints. How can a city from the textile industry start over economically, enhancing its know-how while preserving its heritage ? Which meaning has to be given to this reconstruction? In this project, we are interested in the contemporary textile production with the textile design’s development which allows expansion of the futur material’s fields of application.

Research problem:
How can architectural conversation preserve the significant textile industrial heritage and yet support Roubaix’s new economic and cultural influence with a site dedicated to textile design’s innovation and creativity?

The site:
The Roussel’s factory (usine) and the “courées” Heuls and Lepeers, Roubaix.
The project takes place in several buildings dating from the nineteenth century : building B from the former textile factory François Roussel (spinning mill and wool’s weaving) and around twenty neighbouring working-class accommmodations typical of the north of France. The “courée” is a dead-end street with identical small houses
side by side. For this project two of them were selected for development : the Heuls and Lepeers “courées”.
They are located in a lively district of Roubaix but all the buildings have discreet, almost secret entrances.

Concept : Upgrading and reactivation of the textile industry’s memory.

The users : the place is dedicated to textile designers and to textile professionals and students plentiful in Roubaix
and its local area. The Mulliez Foundation is also a public place which welcomes locals and tourists who would like
to learn more about the different textile know-hows through contemporary textile design.

Programme :
The Factory – the Mulliez Foundation is not only a production site but is also a place for the development of the textile industry and to influence how such develpoment progresses.
There are workshops for hand-crafted and industrial production, designers’ studios, an exhibition and selling area
(the showroom) and a canteen (“l’estaminet”).
A course is offered in the factory building showing different industrial textile know-how through the production workshops for the designers, the showroom, professional areas (business private rooms) and events (fashion shows, exhibitions).
The “courées” are for the hand-crafted production and prototypes, as well as a public canteen and studios for designers who would like to stay in residence.

Strategy : the aim is to reactivate the manufacturing process with new methods of production developement,
by a course’s progression.

Design : the threshold
A passage is created between the “courées” and the factory, ensuring a transition between handcraft and manufacturing. The brick wall demarcating the “courées”, shows a rupture, a scale’s change between the former working-class accommodations and the factory’s building. It also means a production’s change.