Completion: Spring 1997
This steel and glass pavilion on the banks of the River Thames in rural Berkshire, designed for a private client, cantilevers over an existing landing stage. The practice achieved planning approval, although previous proposals for this sensitive site had been rejected. The building is a contextual response firmly rooted in the landscape whilst being dynamic in form.
The previous proposals had all employed a ‘traditional’ form of a timber frame and pitched roof. The planner’s predominant concerns were intrusion into the landscape and the danger of ‘boathouses’ becoming an independent dwelling. Thus the idea was born to create a glass enclosure, which would both afford wonderful views, and be as transparent as possible leaving the riverbank uninterrupted. Retaining the views of the garden and of the riverbank would be possible through a building built of glass. Whilst preparing the planning application we sought strength from the precedents of Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson and Eames.
The cantilevered, rectangular volume is supported off two tapering solid timber legs (Ekki) converging in a ‘V’ form onto a single pile foundation. The exposed copper-clad hull is reminiscent of a boat, floating lightly above the water. The pavilion opens over the river and fulfils the clients’ desire to be able to enjoy the river and their garden from the banks of the Thames in comfort.
The Boat Pavilion was designed to work with its site, to access the natural attributes of the river and man’s interventions with it over the past centuries. It demonstrates the courage and commitment of the client to contemporary architecture suitable for such a rural setting.
‘I believe the Boathouse has achieved that rare quality that it appears to always have belonged in this landscape. Architecture is more than packaging, in a confusing world littered with ephemera it can provide an authentic voice.’
Michael Stacey, Acadia 1998
‘Recognition should be made to the client for having the courage to start the planning process for a third time and maintaining a convection that contemporary architecture is suitable for such a tranquil rural setting’
A+U, Japan, June 1998