My latest visit to UTC@Harbourside was on another winter afternoon with the sun glowing low in the sky. Inside the Carpenter’s Workshop, I was disoriented by the way the sunlight was bouncing off the interior space. It reminded me of how light can shimmer and shift on the walls of a swimming pool. It was not until I was home and examining my photos that I guessed the source of the confusing light. The sun must have been bouncing off the surface of the river that flows right outside the building. The beautiful arched windows were being lit by the low setting sun as well as by the reflections off the water.
The old Marine and Carpenter’s Workshops in Newhaven Harbour have been empty for a long time now but they were once a hive of industrial activity where boats, ferries and even a paddle steamer were maintained and repaired, with the adjacent railway buildings housing their own railway workshops.
The buildings will now have a new lease of life. Renovation and rebuilding will transform this beautiful old building into a new University Technical College for 14-19-year-olds. UTC@Harbourside will specialise in marine and environmental engineering. The partners behind this new school have hired me to document the process of this renovation. For 15 months, I will be taking a weekly journey down the road from Lewes to the coast to watch this old abandoned building emerge as a new place for learning and inspiration.