Cartwright Pickard – The Boiler House

Project Details

Project - The Boiler House
Sector - Education & Commercial
Architect - Cartwright Pickard  
Technology - Hybrid


Project Overview

The Boilerhouse project for Royal Holloway, University of London employs imaginative use of timber to respond to the beautiful industrial context of the site’s history, providing a popular café, event and social space for the University.

The intervention of the pavilion re-invigorates the modest courtyard and the University’s heritage assets, with the refurbishment of the original timber trussed stable block providing a new café servery, event space and external seating area for both a student and faculty members to enjoy.

The primary structure of the new pavilion comprises of a flitched timber structural frame with a free-form roof curving to articulate views both internally and externally, drawing attention to the new and existing architecture. The material palette of timber, metal and glass is in direct response to the setting, and the use of offsite manufacturing and modern methods of construction gives an efficient, high quality delivery and way of modernising the development.

The Boilerhouse project for Royal Holloway, University of London is a café pavilion and event space in the courtyard of an existing heritage building and the refurbishment of the original stable block wing into a seating and servery area.

Falling within the curtilage of the Grade I Listed Founders Building, the pavilion is a subtle intervention, whose architectural mass lightly touches the granite set courtyard. The Boilerhouse’s original structures include two tall brick chimneys. The roof of the pavilion lifts up to acknowledge the existing chimney stacks which have been lit as part of the works to form a dramatic beacon within the landscape. The roof form affords the new building a sense of drama and ties the building to its context. The complex has been completed with courtyard and landscaping upgrades creating improved external spaces and enhancing the setting of the buildings.

The building comprises a flitched timber and steel structural frame pavilion with stainless steel braced bays and a double curvature plywood roof. A glass facade expresses the architectural form of the timber super-structure and the sculptural-curving plywood roof form and reveals the warmth of the original red brick courtyard boundary wall, enhancing the heritage context of the site.

To meet a demanding programme and complexities of an occupied student campus, a modular offsite build comprising a curved glulam timber structure and copper roof provided a refined and robust response to the context, whilst creating a dramatic open access into the courtyard. Offsite methods of construction were used, with factory manufacture of components which had been preassembled and tested offsite and were then delivered ready for immediate erection. This helped to minimise disruption to the university campus during construction.

Natural ventilation and the roof form contribute to an occupant controlled environmental strategy. Underfloor heating is used along with natural daylight, acoustic control through the soffit treatment, specialist lighting and a brise soleil system to reduce heat and solar gain.

The project was delivered to a fast-paced 6 months’ timeline from planning to completion, with a successful two month Listed Building Consent planning process including all liaisons with Historic England.


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Solid Wood Solutions is taking place on the 5th July at The Oculus - part of the University of Warwick and will shine a spotlight on pioneering projects through informative case studies presented by those who conceived and developed the buildings that are gaining global attention. This event presents a great opportunity to gain insight and network with those who are shaping the future of the engineered timber industry.

Speakers include:

  • Giancarlo Torpiano - Arup
  • Jonathan Roynon - Buro Happold
  • Kelly Harrison - Heyne Tillett Steel
  • John Spittle - Wiehag
  • Nic Clark - KLH UK
  • Gavin White - Ramboll
  • Kevin Flanagan - PLP Architecture
  • David Lomax - Waugh Thistleton
  • Neil Eaton - Berman Guedes Stretton
  • Daniel Kreissig - ZÜBLIN Timber
  • Robin Lancashire - TRADA
  • Darren Richards - Cogent Consulting
  • Penny Randell - Ecological Building Systems UK
  • Robert Hairstans - Edinburgh Napier University

For more information, visit the Solid Wood Solutions website >