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David Mellor cutlery factory
The Round Building, Hathersage, Derbyshire
David Mellor cutlery factory
associated engineer
date  1988 - 1989
era  Modern  |  category  Factory/Industrial Plant  |  reference  SK231809
photo  whitbybird
Built on the foundations of an old gas holder 26m in diameter, David Mellor's single storey clear-span cutlery factory was designed to respect local building traditions, particularly in the choice of materials used.
David Mellor (b.1930) is a prominent figure in recent British industrial design. Beginning with cutlery, his expertise and influence have extended to the design of street furniture such as bus shelters and traffic light systems.
Mellorís cutlery operation moved from Sheffield — the home of special steelmaking in the UK — to the Round Building in nearby Hathersage in the late 1980s. Creating the new factory gave engineer Mark Whitby the opportunity to renew his working relationship with architect Michael Hopkins & Partners. They had worked together on the design of the Patera Building when Whitby was with Anthony Hunt Associates. The innovative roof structure of the new factory is the result of this renewed partnership.
The circular structure consists of a loadbearing perimeter wall clad in local stone, with a conical roof clad in lead. A band of glazing tops the wall below the eaves. The roof frame is constructed in traditional hierarchical fashion from radial lattice trusses with circular concentric cross-braced purlins, all of tubular steel. The trusses are exposed to the interior and rise to a glazed lantern at the peak.
The outward thrust of the roof is constrained by a ring of adjustable tension rods around the perimeter, which allow it to bear directly onto padstones incorporated in the supporting wall. The trusses are connected to the wall by a series of vertical steel plates which act as springs, absorbing roof movement.
The lantern has its own innovative structure. It resembles a horizontal bicycle wheel with the spindle extended in both directions. A series of tension rods run radially from each end to the rim of the lantern. The upper set of rods supports the triangular glazing frames.
The Round Building is significant because although it's a factory, built for an industrial designer and it's in an industrial setting, it disregards the principles of prefabrication and industrialised production. These had been bywords for the generation of High-Tech architects just a few years earlier. They had advocated designs based on systematic factory production of components. However, with this building it would be more accurate to see its lineage in the brick-built roundhouses of Victorian railway architecture.
Architect: Michael Hopkins & Partners
Supervising engineer: Mark Whitby
b i b l i o g r a p h y
"Michael Hopkins" by Cristina Donati
Skira Editore SpA , Milan, 2006
"Hopkins" by Colin Davies, Phaidon, London 1993

David Mellor cutlery factory