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Hawkins\Brown wins go-ahead to convert Brunel landmark into offices

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Hawkins\Brown has won planning permission to convert a disused Grade II-listed railway shed designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in Buckinghamshire

The practice will retrofit the Victorian engineering legend’s 700m2 landmark at High Wycombe train station, turning it into workspaces as well as adding a 550m2 extension.

It will work with engineer Heyne Tillett Steel on the project for client Buckinghamshire Council.

Hawkins\Brown said the shed would be ‘sensitively’ refurbished and given a ‘welcoming’ main entrance as well as improved landscaping.

A new roof is planned to restore the building’s original character while the extension will mirror the form of the existing structure. Standing seam zinc cladding will be applied to the extension’s cross-laminated timber and glulam structure to express modern structural engineering in the spirt that the Victorians embraced.

Step-free access will be created from the main entrance along with accessible toilets and a lift for the mezzanine level of the extension.

Materials found on site, such as railway sleepers and original timber trusses, will be reused. Linear tracks for power and data will be installed in the floor to allow a range of configurations and reference the memory of the broad-gauge railway tracks that once ran through the building.

Hawkins\Brown partner Nicola Rutt said: ‘The Grade II-listed engine shed has all the characteristics that make former industrial buildings such fantastic candidates for rehabilitation, with flexible and robust high-volume spaces and a rich history.’

Buckinghamshire Council deputy leader Katrina Wood added: ‘Hawkins\Brown has provided an appealing design that will make this an iconic first view of the town, an attractive opportunity for the right tenants and an exciting step in the regeneration of Wycombe’s Eastern Quarter.’

Kelly Harrison, associate at Heyne Tillett Steel, said the structure of the extension took inspiration from Brunel’s continuous pursuit of innovation and that tapered sections of engineered timber would create ‘an extremely efficient and visually expressive design’.

She added: ‘Restoring the existing fabric is a wonderful challenge. The existing timber is in great condition for its age and we are able to reuse previously demolished truss sections, which have been stored in the building, to repair the roof where needed.’

Project data

Location High Wycombe
Local authority Buckinghamshire Council
Type of project Conservation/refurbishment/new build
Client Buckinghamshire Council
Architect Hawkins\Brown
Structural engineer Heyne Tillett Steel
M&E consultant Hoare Lea
Gross internal floor area 1,250m2
Total cost £2.65m
Cost consultant Artelia
Planning consultant JLL

Brunel Railway Shed in High Wycombe - existing interior

Brunel Railway Shed in High Wycombe - existing interior

Source: Hawkins\Brown

Brunel Railway Shed in High Wycombe - existing interior

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