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Wimbledon Girl Guides by Hugh Broughton

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The efforts of a branch of the Guides in Wimbledon have paid off with an award-winning building in which Hugh Broughton’s own recommendations for reducing lifespan costs have been applied

It takes a long time and a great deal of patience to raise £40,000 through odd-jobbing and bringand-buy sales. The South Wimbledon District Guides did it in 10 years, driven by their sheer determination to have a new, permanent headquarters built. Fortunately in 1996 their efforts were supplemented by a National Lottery grant of just over £158,000, allowing the south London Guides and Brownies to take a short, but well earned, rest from their fundraising.

Hugh Broughton was to commissioned to design what was to be an RIBA award-winning building. The new headquarters replaced an old army building which had long since been abandoned by the Guides. A family of squirrels had since declared squatters rights.

The Guide Trust Corporation has owned the freehold of the site since 1986 when it was donated to the Guides after 25 years of the association leasing it.


Accessed via a small footpath alongside a kindergarten, the site is totally landlocked by houses and is invisible from the road.Well- developed trees surround the building and its small garden, allowing privacy for activities such as building campfires. The large expanse of glazing in the main hall offers views that feel a long way from suburban Wimbledon.

Being a voluntary organisation, the Guide Association is often hampered by limited funds and time for building maintenance. Broughton’s brief was that the new headquarters building must be low maintenance and economic to run, while supporting the activities of the district’s 200 Guides and Brownies as well as visiting units.

The new 170m 2building comprises a main hall, committee room, a kitchen with hatch to the main hall, WCs with showers and plenty of storage for bulky items such as camping equipment. The front of the hall is largely glazed with steel-framed windows and a brise soleil which shields it from excessive glare. Externally, an oak bench runs the length of the glazing, serving as a protected seating area for the Guides’ outdoor activities.

Brickwork forms the building’s base and the upper level is clad in untreated cedar.The external materials were selected for low maintenance and to give the appearance of a solid base with a lighter upper level.

Back in 1997, Broughton wrote a user-friendly ‘good practice guide’ for the Guide Association advising groups on how to set up a planned maintenance programme.

‘I’m hoping to encourage them to think of their building in terms of lifespan instead of capital cost, ’ he explained at the time. ‘Buildings of this type need longevity.’

With his building for the South Wimbledon District Guides, Broughton has hopefully achieved just that.




TENDER DATE November 1999





TOTAL COST £189,916

CLIENT South Wimbledon District Guides

ARCHITECT Hugh Broughton Architects

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Jampel Davidson and Bell

QUANTITY SURVEYOR Boyden and Company

PLANNING SUPERVISORS Boyden Planning Supervision

CONTRACTOR Barnes and Elliott

SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS geotechnical investigations Albury SI; concrete slab Ace Minimix; steel fabricator Keith Blanchard; electrician Pratt Electrics; mechanical contractor Stewart Harries Engineering; steel windows Rea Metal Windows; metal roof installation Littleman Contracts; yellow multi bricks Baggeridge Bricks; cedar weatherboarding the Loft Shop; powder coated steel profiled roof Precision Metal Forming; vinyl floors Altro; WC cubicles and vanity unit Amwell Laminates ; light fittings Marlin Lighting; ironmongery Yannedis




The subsoil on the site is shrinkable London clay and there were trees nearby, some of which needed to be removed, so a piled foundation was needed. The in-situ suspended reinforced concrete ground slab on a grid of piles was cast on 300mm of honeycombed compressible polystyrene and reinforced top and bottom to cope with future heave. A flat slab was used to keep the ground works simple.


The above ground structure is a steel frame. The masonry walls are tied to the steelwork with clerestory glazing above.


Cantilever columns support lightly trussed beams stabilised by the metal deck.


The top boom of each trussed beam is a 102mm x 102mm RSJ section with a 20mm diameter tie and central strut. The top boom acting alone resists wind uplift.


Paul Bell, Jampel Davison Bell

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