Took a trip today to Salts Mill, Saltaire, nr Bradford.

A building that reminds me every time I go how to provide space for commercial enterprise.

The old weaving sheds are cavernous, customisable and flexible space. They play witness to the ebb and flow of commercial ventures. Allow space for expansion and contraction.

Plumbing, heating and electrics are exposed and adaptable.

The whole contents of the galleries, the book shops and the cafes feel like they could ship out and be replaced by something new at an moment. A building for possibilities and change. A building that you can actually see has a future, if only it could be made to be energy efficient which will be no mean feat.

Of course the designers had no idea what would become of the mill. They had no foresight that textiles and weaving would die out in West Yorkshire, and that these vast shed-like floors would host different quieter, cultural functions.

It doesn’t matter. We now have the benefit of hindsight. We now have the knowledge of time. It enables us to programme commercial buildings to take account of numerous functions. Ones that we can’t even conceive.

This is real estate.

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