£2.4million transformation of historic building in Coventry, which was the country’s first car factory, is approved

The £2.4million transformation of a historic building in Coventry, which was once part of the Daimler car factory, has been approved at the highest level. The Daimler Powerhouse Creation Centre, a creative hub for the region, has been announced as the winner of a top building award.

It won the Community Benefit category in the West Midlands at the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Awards 2022. Run by Warwickshire property, development and construction company The Wigley Group – which owns the Sandy Lane Business Park site – the project saw the only remaining part of the Daimler car factory transformed into the first purpose-built art production facility in Coventry.

The judges hailed the program for its far-reaching community benefits as it was announced as the regional winner in a virtual ceremony this week, with the winners now progressing to the live grand final in London in October.

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And it was not the only building in the region awarded at the RICS Awards. Houlton School in Rugby was also a winner in the Renovation/Revitalization Project category.

The refurbishment and revitalization of the listed 1929 Rugby radio station transmitter creates a distinctive secondary school at the heart of the new and growing Urban&Civic community in Houlton. The school combines three new state-of-the-art blocks with the creative transformation and fabric upgrade of the listed buildings.

Led by vHH Architects, the design team collaborated with heritage stakeholders and Morgan Sindall’s supply chain, delivering what the judges described as “an exemplary school” on time and on budget, despite the pandemic. The RICS judges said it ‘creates an outstanding community facility, celebrating the heritage significance of the historic radio station and establishing an iconic building in the future heart of Houlton’.



The Houlton School at Houlton in Rugby

Speaking about the Daimler Powerhouse award win, Wigley Group CEO James Davies said: “I am absolutely delighted. It took nearly a decade of work to get there, as we started working with Imagineer and Godiva Awakes eight years ago to come up with a plan and find the necessary funding.

“It involved a huge amount of partnership work over a considerable period of time, but through everyone’s efforts, we helped save a dilapidated building that was the last remnant of the country’s first car factory, and created a community facility and a cultural heritage for Coventry Year of Culture UK It was a real team effort from everyone at Wigley as every part of the business was involved in the project – from ownership, from construction to development – which gives me a huge sense of pride. Kudos to everyone involved.”

The judges said of the Daimler Power Station: “This project provides broad community benefits as part of an event of cultural significance to the city of Coventry and celebrates the city’s industrial heritage.”



The Daimler Powerhouse design center
The Daimler Powerhouse design center

The Powerhouse building is the only remaining part of Daimler’s Lawson factory where the first Daimler car was built in 1897, the rest of the factory having been destroyed in the bombings of World War II.

Through a partnership of the arts sector, community groups, local authorities, the Arts Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, new life has been breathed into the building as a center of creative excellence.

The facility, which opened to the public in August 2021, is managed by Godiva Awakes Trust and Imagineer Productions, providing a dedicated and fully accessible space for the production of outdoor and site-specific works.

Its transformation is the first phase of the wider regeneration of the seven-acre site on Sandy Lane in Coventry, with phase two being a new mixed-use residential development, subject to planning permission.

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