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Assorted Skills + Talents* finally gets the OK for Thames rowing club scheme

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Assorted Skills + Talents* (AST) has been given the go-ahead for a £10 million overhaul of a rowing club on the banks of the River Thames in west London

Submitted for planning almost a year ago, the scheme for the Quintin Hogg Memorial Fund will refurbish the existing boathouse at Chiswick, currently shared by Quintin Boat Club and the University of Westminster.

Designated as Metropolitan Open Land, the 3ha site next to the listed Chiswick Bridge is famous as the venue for the finishing presentations following the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

The approved scheme includes a new boat store, training centre and a separate rugby pavilion for the university. 

AST’s brief was to restore and extend the boathouse to double the boat storage space, improve access and create additional facilities such as changing rooms and a new gym/fitness space overlooking the river.

The approved design features a ’harlequin-panelled prefabricated SIPS roof’ of charred larch timber and ‘raw’ concrete bases.

AST founder Chris Boyce said: ’This has been a long and complex planning journey, due to the status of the site as Metropolitan Open Land.

The team successfully established a case for ’exceptional circumstances’ development

’The team successfully established a case for ’exceptional circumstances’ development, based on high-quality design and the delivery of a social outreach programme, which secures the future of the building for its original purpose.’

The original boathouse was built on the present site in 1888 but was replaced in 1920 and then partially rebuilt again after it was bombed during the Second World War. According to the practice, the existing buildings are in a poor state of repair. 

Work is expected to start on site next summer.

Darc Studio

SUBMITTED: AST’s designs for boat club in West London

Source: Darc Studio

AST’s designs for boat club in West London

Architect’s view 

Chris Boyce of Assorted Skills + Talents*
Following a programme of face-to-face engagement and consultation with neighbouring residents, rowing and rugby clubs at the University of Westminster, possible partner sports clubs and rowing tenants, as well as national sporting bodies, the team garnered letters of support from many parties, including the residents and sporting bodies such as the Rugby Football Union and British Rowing.

We then built trust and, through pre-apps – four over a period of almost 12 months, gained support from the local authority’s planning and design officers, who praised our timber-clad, simple, modern interpretation of the Thames Boat House vernacular.

However, the determination period was protracted and took over 10 months from submission, due to the site being defined as Metropolitan Open Land. The team built a case with the London Borough of Hounslow and GLA officers during this period for ’very special circumstances’ and developed a broad community outreach programme, via a binding community use agreement, as part of the S106. There were public objections to bringing the site back in to use at all, including some from the same residents who had originally written in support.

This was a long, complex application for a sensitive site, visible from Chiswick Bridge and to a global TV audience annually, but we were all committed to realising the ambition of the Quintin Hogg Trust to create a centre for sporting excellence that is truly open to all, and breaks down barriers in the subversive spirit of its founder, [Conservative politician] Quintin Hogg.

The buildings are not luxury or ‘show’ facilities, instead each is a simple utilitarian series of spaces connected to the sports they support. The grouping of new buildings is seen from the river as part of the continuation of a series of boathouses, sitting as the third building of a tryptic composed of Mortlake (formerly Isis) and Quintin. The design is modern, but refers to the language of part-timbered boat sheds and ornamental boathouses along the river, deeply rooted in a Thames vernacular with expressed structure, patterned decorative brickwork and a harlequin-panelled prefabricated SIPS roof clad in charred larch timber, all sitting on a raw concrete base.

The overhanging gable ends of both structures positively terminate with expressed glulam structure and translucent polycarbonate infill panels. These cover a mini-grandstand for rugby spectators, and, within the boat store, a small outdoor terrace space overlooking the river, connected to the cardiovascular rowing and cycle machine room, and orientation space for larger groups of young rowers/school pupils.

Qhmf structure gif

Qhmf structure gif

Project data

Location The River Thames at Chiswick Bridge, London
Type of project Community social Enterprise and Sports
Client The Quintin Hogg Memorial Fund + Quintin Hogg Trust
End Users Quintin Boat Club + University of Westminster
Project and Development Manager Pier 22
Architect Assorted Skills + Talents*
Landscape architect Urban Green
Planning consultant Patrick Arthurs Planning
Property Adviser Crossland Otter Hunt
Structural engineer Price & Myers
M&E consultant Max Fordham
Quantity surveyor Gardiner +Theobald
Highways + Transport ADL Traffic
Main contractor TBC
Anticipated Start on site date mid 2020 (phased)
Completion date TBC
Contract duration TBC
Gross internal floor area 3,276m²
Gross external area 3,602m²
Landscape area (including terraces) 30,656m²
Form of contract Traditional
Total cost circa £10 million

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