Royal Arsenal

Greenwich, London. 2018

  • Project Details
  • Completion: 2018
  • Clients: Berkeley Homes

The Royal Arsenal project involves the redevelopment of two Grade II listed buildings, The Officers’ House and the Royal Carriage Factory, on the historic Royal Arsenal site adjacent to the new Crossrail station at Woolwich Arsenal. The Officers’ House is a 280-year-old officers’ quarters and barracks originally designed to house the Royal Regiment of the Artillery, and previously on English Heritage’s At Risk list. This will be refurbished and extended with a new addition to the rear echoing the scale and proportions of the existing building, creating a new civic frontage to the proposed Royal Carriage Square. Both existing and proposed blocks will be serviced by an external walkway and vertical circulation, which spans between the buildings, providing level access to each of the 19 residential units. At ground level new commercial opportunities will enhance the existing retail and leisure spaces found on site. The Royal Carriage Factory retains the long low southern warehouse building and sees the addition of a new 11 storey building to the west of the existing energy centre. South facing residential duplex units occupy first and second floors of the new building, overlooking the new Royal Carriage Courtyard. An external deck at the first floor level of the north elevation provides access to eight duplex units from first to second floors. The proposals aim to retain and refurbish as much of the existing buildings as possible, returning them to active use while retaining the character of the existing spaces and elevations, while the architecture of the new insertions evokes the site’s rich industrial history.

 

AHMM was appointed in late 2015 to redevelop a dilapidated Grade II listed barracks building at Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. One of the last heritage buildings to be redeveloped within the masterplan, the brief sought to retain the Officers’ House (Block A) and develop additional housing within a new, ‘twin’ block (Block B) running parallel to it. The completion of Blocks A and B was essential to the creation of a successful urban environment forming the main approach to Woolwich Arsenal’s future CrossRail Station on the neighbouring site.

 

Block A had suffered 30 years of neglect since the MOD’s vacation of the Royal Arsenal site and was being held together by an elaborate temporary support structure prior to the project’s commencement. Extensive water ingress had rotted much of the internal timber floor structure, which required the remaining masonry walls to be stabilised with a new steel roof structure and concrete deck at third floor level. This provided a full third floor of attic accommodation within what was originally two pitched roofs with minimal impact on the building’s external appearance. At third floor, a new rear dormer window provides a contemporary entrance to the four top floor loft apartments. Prior to strip out, moulds of cornices and skirting boards were taken and fireplaces removed and stored for re-use. During Block A’s conversion into 15 apartments many of these items were reinstated to preserve as much of the original character of the building as possible.

 

Block B is set 6.5m away from Block A, the two united by a shared courtyard animated by a dynamic arrangement of access bridges linking each apartment with a central walkway over three levels. The courtyard provides a dual aspect to all apartments and the external walkways avoid the need for internal access corridors within each block. The generous proportions of the approach to each of the front doors allows residents to make these their own with plants and front door mats. The courtyard approach is through the restored Victorian entrance hall and staircase within Block A.

 

Demolition of the existing began in 2017, with the anticipated completion date being ahead of the Station opening. Therefore, the client was keen to explore offsite methods of construction for Block B to accelerate the programme. In total forty-eight modular units were manufactured to create 19 new apartments within a footprint of similar proportions to Block A. Uniting disparate ground levels across the site, the base of Block B sits a storey below that of Block A and accommodates retail units, which address the new public square. Loadbearing Flemish bond brickwork with expressed dark headers articulates Block B’s facade which is further enhanced with deep window reveals and large external balconies overlooking the square.

 

Extensive landscaping and public realm work has been undertaken as part of the redevelopment. Block B accommodates a new lift connecting the passageway between the Officers’ House to the new public square a storey below creating a fully accessible route to and from the future CrossRail entrance.


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