Union Lofts, Preston

Union Lofts, Preston


The Brief


Property developer, Etc Urban, appointed Workspace Design and Build as the principal contractor to refurbish a historical building on Guildhall Street, Preston.

The building, Union Carriage Works, was opened as a carriage and auto-car manufactory by James Walmsley in 1897 but was then sold to the United Yeast Company in 1925, which serviced the brewing, baking and confectioner’s trades until the 1960s. Since then, it has been a car show room, a carpet showroom and a nightclub.

Working alongside The Chase Architecture we converted this historical building into 18 duplex apartments, ranging from studios through to one, two- and three-bedroom apartments.

Residential Refurbishment



The project team were keen to retain as many original features as possible, including the brickwork throughout the building. We went through the process of sandblasting all brickwork to give a rustic feel to all apartments but being careful to avoid spalling occurring. The original trusses throughout the building were also soda blasted to bring them back to their former glory and prepare some for decoration.

As well as restoring permanent features, the client wanted parts of the building to be upcycled if possible – so we decided to keep hold of the reclaimed timber from the 1st floor mezzanine that we had to strip out. This part of the building was originally used as a showroom for horses when it was the Union Carriage Works, so the client was keen to install this part of history in as many apartments as possible. Following careful restoration of the natural grain in the timber, this now features in the bed-decks and staircases throughout many apartments.

For the staircases, CNC plywood was chosen as the material to adhere to the rustic and natural feel of the building – the same plywood was also used for the window frames to ensure consistency throughout. As part of the rustic and quirky design, hanging rope light fittings were chosen as a key feature to contrast with the modern and contemporary aspects such as bespoke kitchens and free-standing fridges.

Nine of the lofts on the rear elevation feature roof terraces with a stylish sliding glass door to retain space and maximise natural light.

The common parts in the building were also refurbished - bottega charcoal matt flooring was laid down and the existing balustrade was restored and decorated. The exterior was a key part of the works as this was insulated and rendered, giving The Union Lofts it’s anthracite grey colour.