The Michael Baker Boathouse

The King’s School, Worcester

Project Value:

£2.5m

Client:

Completion:

2012

Key Points

  • RIBA award winning design
  • near Passivhaus construction
  • EPC A
  • Approaching zero carbon standard
  • Cited in 2012 by the Architects’ Journal sustainability editor as her ‘building of the year’

Building on Context

The Michael Baker Boathouse is our award-winning imagining of a contemporary boathouse, brought into reality by a kind donation from an alumnus of the King’s School. Surrounded by the tangible heritage of Worcester’s medieval historic core, its cantilevered prow points towards the River Severn and adjacent sports pitches. Understanding context was key in creating a functional building that would serve as the focal point for our second ten-year masterplan for the School. The structure it replaced was an impractical and hard to access 1950s boat shed.

Our response was a striking, modern design, echoing the shape of a boat, which has transformed the Riverside Walk.

Smart and Sustainable

A palette of timber and brick was used to respond sensitively to its surroundings. Fine sweet chestnut laths run diagonally dynamically across the upper floor, leading the eye down to double length bricks of the ground floor walls and emphasising the structure’s slender form.

Sustainability was a central consideration to the brief, which has led to a building that approaches both Passivhaus and Carbon Zero standards. Throughout the summer, solar electric and hot water roof panels meet the building’s energy needs. Triple glazing, high levels of air-tightness and a wood-pellet boiler have helped it secure an EPC A rating.

A 60% increase in footprint was required for the storage of the School’s impressive fleet of boats and sculls. Clever construction in that storage area has allowed for flooding to occur without any damage being sustained by the building.

Not Looking Backwards

Instead of seeking to mimic the historic nature of the sport or its surroundings, the Boathouse utilises its combination of sensitively selected materials and bold sustainability objectives to deliver a powerful, modern design, which was awarded a 2013 RIBA Medal. The Boathouse goes beyond a storage facility, its upper floor provides changing, teaching and a community reception space with idyllic views across the Severn and to the Cathedral.

The project was singled out by the Architects’ Journal as their sustainable building of the year in 2012 and has received global coverage for its ambitious environmental agenda and sleek design.