The Michael Baker Boathouse

Associated Architects’ second ten-year masterplan for King’s included rebuilding the Boathouse, which was previously a small unsightly 1950s building. The site is a focal point in the masterplan and in the Worcester City Council / Sustrans Waterfront Project. On the line of the old city defences, it is at the edge of the historic city core which has a rich history including Roman and medieval archaeology. The proposal to create a striking modern building was welcomed by the Council.

The existing ground floor footprint is increased by 60% to provide storage for all the School’s boats. The site is subject to regular flooding, so the construction here is robust solid brickwork growing out from the line of the historic brick embankment. Reflecting the elegant elongated form of the building, the new wall is built with double-length bricks.

By contrast, the lightweight upper floor floats above the retaining wall and flood plain. It provides changing, teaching and a school / community reception space with dramatic views up and down the River Severn from a new glazed and cantilevered prow. This and the gently curving plan, following the historic defensive line, give the building a distinct modern presence on Riverside Walk.

The upper floor overlooks the historic Creighton Memorial Gardens and focuses views to the landmarks of the Cathedral and St Andrew’s spire.

Fine angled sweet chestnut timber laths cloak the upper volume, weathering down to a natural silvery-grey colour in keeping with the sensitive historic context.

Solar electric and hot water roof panels, near Passivhaus construction and a biomass boiler give environmental performance to EPC A, approaching zero carbon standard.

Client: The King’s School, Worcester
Project Value: £2.5m
Award: RIBA West Midlands Award 2013

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