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Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt reveals rework of Cullinan listed office

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Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt has submitted plans to convert Ted Cullinan’s Grade II*-listed Ready Mix Concrete (RMC) building in Surrey into a retirement living complex

The 28-year-old green-roofed office scheme had been threatened with demolition to make way for terraced housing designed by Barton Willmore. 

However the ‘outstanding’ and ‘innovative’ buildings were listed in July 2014 following a high-profile campaign backed by a group of leading architects, including former RIBA president Sunand Prasad, and the Twentieth Century Society.

Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt’s two-stage £20 million plans will create an 81-home ‘later living’ village on the 7.37ha plot near Egham.

The project will overhaul the site’s existing 18th, 19th and 20th-century buildings into one and two-bedroom apartments with the recreational facilities from Cullinan’s 1990 scheme restored to create a community heart.

According to the Basingstoke-based practice, the front of house in the original complex will be reinstated and the swimming pool and spa, squash courts, restaurants and dining areas will be refurbished. Extra facilities include a residents’ lounge and library, staff accommodation, guest suites and two winter gardens.

The wider scheme will also feature a trio of new low-rise blocks housing 25 flats, described as ‘a 21st-century complementary addition to the current campus, carefully integrated with the landscape to reduce the visual impact on the green belt’.

Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt's proposed conversion of Cullinan's 1990 RMC building

Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt’s proposed conversion of Cullinan’s 1990 RMC building

Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt’s proposed conversion of Cullinan’s 1990 RMC building

Practice director David Ayre said: ‘We were inspired by the way each architectural period can be read through its contrast.

‘Our intention is for the new development to read as a new layer against the existing buildings, and new elements of the proposed conversion to be considered to be like pieces of furniture or joinery inserted into the existing buildings.’

The firm says it has ‘worked in close collaboration with Historic England, the Twentieth Century Society and Cullinan Studio throughout the planning process.

Conservation adviser Tess Pinto from The Twentieth Century Society said: ‘What we’ve seen of the plans so far is very encouraging. We suggested that this type of use would be a good fit when we first supported listing, and it’s great to see creative thinking demonstrating that the existing buildings and landscape can be revitalised in such a positive way.’

Cullinan Studio’s senior partner Robin Nicholson added: ‘It’s wonderful that our Grade II*-listed RMC HQ is going to be restored – in particular the pool, the roof gardens and the general fabric) – and put to excellent use as retirement living; a good solution in capable hands.’

Subject to planning approval, work is expected to start on site , November.

Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt's proposed masterplan

Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt’s proposed masterplan

Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt’s proposed masterplan

Project data

Location: Thorpe, Egham, Surrey
Site Area: 7.37 hectares
Type of project: Later Living Development
Client: Eden Retirement Living
Architect: Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt
Retirement living consultant: Paul Trofimov & Associates
Planning consultant: Tanner & Tilley
Heritage consultant: Forum Heritage Services
Landscape architect: Pegasus Group
M & E consultant: Max Fordham
Transport, highways & contaminated land advisers: Peter Brett Associates
Flood Risk and Drainage consultant: JNP Group
Start on site: November 2018
Completion: Phase 1 (existing buildings) – 2020 / Phase 2 (new build) – 2021
Contract Duration: 36 months
Project Value: £20million

Cullinan RMC HQ


Comment from Ted Cullinan about Cemex from 2014

The Ready Mix Concrete (RMC) Headquarters Building is the building in which the ideas that have always interested and inspired me are most thoroughly combined in a single work.

Its setting is an historic one, of one early eighteenth century house, its nineteenth century stable block and a nineteenth century half-timbered and gabled house typical of the Thames Valley. All had been more or less wrecked with additions over the years.

We restored the three houses and re-set the first two in courtyards generated from the width of their classical frontages; these courtyards being made out of new office, social and sports accommodation for RMC. The half-timbered Arts and Crafts house was left more freestanding, only loosely connected to the other accommodation and used for training.

The new accommodation makes the garden courts and has gardens on top of it which fulfil 3 functions: they contribute to the super insulation of the buildings and the temperature flywheel effect; they can be enjoyed by the occupants; and they provide a good view from neighbouring St Anne’s Hill as asked for by the local people and planners. So the whole scheme allowed me the great pleasure of seamlessly continuing the landscape, gardening and building, a thing I’d always longed to do. 

Before RMC I had done many buildings which were well insulated, passive solar and so on; but RMC was the first which combined heavy heat-storing roofs, high insulation and underfloor trickle heating and ventilation.

Spaces and places inside and out interpenetrate with one another, and each leads to another one or two.

Cullinan RMC HQ

Ted Cullinan’s RMC headquarters - as existing

Ted Cullinan’s RMC headquarters - as existing

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Great to see the qualities of a fine building being respected, and the new architects getting the blessing of their predecessor.

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