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Lee Boyd’s Beefeater gin visitor centre opens

Edinburgh-based Lee Boyd has completed this visitor centre for the Beefeater gin distillery in London

The new extension links the distillery’s 19th century red brick building and its 20th century brutalist concrete building, forming a new visitor centre and entrance.

The scheme also includes a new pre-cast concrete circulation tower to take visitors from the exhibition areas to the ‘cathedral-like’ stills house without disrupting the day-to-day work of the distillery.

The tower is clad in copper-coloured fins which ‘create and ever-changing façade’.

In the stills hall its industrial feel has been kept with the addition of modern touches. Glass ceilings give views up into the cathedral vaults of the halls roof, while a concrete bar has been added for gin tasting.

Lee Boyd won the job in 2008 after an invited competition.

The architect’s view

‘The principal challenge for the design team was to address context by integrating the new visitor centre into a fully functioning distillery that combines industrial buildings from different eras and sits alongside active Victorian gasometers behind the famous Oval cricket ground.

‘Neither the 19th century red brick mercantile building nor the 20th century brutalist concrete building forming the Kennington distillery are of significant architectural merit, but through time have become integral to the diverse and eclectic fabric of the area which includes the gas works and the oval cricket ground. The introduction of a visitor centre at the junction of these two buildings was seen by Lee Boyd as the catalyst for conceiving an alternative language for a 21st Century structure and in doing so avoid, unnecessary pastiche. 

‘The form of the new extension is reinforced by the tentative connection it makes to the existing buildings. Where possible this connection in the vertical is made with glass to permit a continuation of the existing surfaces and to allow views in an out at these lines of transition. In the horizontal, roofs and canopies are kept to a minimum and in the case of the entrance canopy, it reads as a visual extension of the mezzanine floor.’

Lee Boyd

Project data

Location Kennington, London
Type of project visitor centre
Client Chivas Bros
Architect Lee Boyd
Consultant Four-by-Two
Exhibition design Contagious
Structural consultant Charles Scott & Partners
M&E consultant Charles Scott & Partners
Quantity surveyor Charles Scott & Partners
Project manager Charles Scott & Partners
Main contractor JM Scully
Funding private
Tender date February 2013
Start on site May 2013
Completion date April 2014
Contract duration 8 months
Form of contract traditional
Total cost undisclosed

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