The Officers’ House, Royal Arsenal

  • © Timothy Soar
  • © Timothy Soar
  • © Timothy Soar
  • © Timothy Soar
  • © Timothy Soar
  • © Timothy Soar
  • © Timothy Soar
  • © Timothy Soar
  • © Timothy Soar

Application Type

Civic Trust Awards

Level of Award

Highly Commended

Region

Greater London

Local Authority Area

Greenwich

Information about this scheme

One of the last heritage sites to be redeveloped within an overall masterplan, the redevelopment of a dilapidated Grade II listed barracks at Royal Arsenal in Woolwich retains the Officers’ House (Block A) and has developed additional housing within a new ‘twin’ block (Block B) running parallel. 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 new Elizabeth Line station nearby. Block A, which was on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register, had suffered 30 years of neglect since the MOD’s vacation of the Royal Arsenal site and was being held together by a temporary support structure. Extensive water ingress had rotted much of the 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 accommodation, within the original 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 united to Block A by a shared courtyard animated with 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 corridors within each block. With completion anticipated before the station opening, the client was keen to explore offsite methods of construction to accelerate the programme; 48 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 addressing and enlivening the new public square. Loadbearing Flemish bond brickwork with expressed dark headers articulates Block B’s facade, further enhanced with deep window reveals and generous balconies overlooking the square. Extensive landscaping and public realm work has been undertaken as part of the scheme. Block B accommodates a new lift connecting the passageway between the Officers’ House to the new public square, creating a fully accessible route to and from the station. As of December 2019, the Officers’ House has been removed from the Heritage at Risk register.

Credits

Client

Berkeley Homes East Thames

Architect

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Structural Engineer

Buro Happold

Civil/MEP Engineers

Buro Happold

Fire Consultants

IFC

Landscape Architect

Gillespies / Philip Cave Associates

CDM

London Bridge Associates

Acousticians

Sol Acoustics

BREEAM

Hodkinson Consultancy

Townscape and Heritage Consultants

KM Heritage

Specialist Modular Sub Contractor

Forta Modular

Primary Use Class

Class C3 - Dwelling Houses