Cremorne Riverside Centre by Sarah Wigglesworth Architects


Here are some photographs of Sarah Wigglesworth Architects' recently completed canoeing facilities for children and young people on the river Thames in London.

The two buildings incorporate boat storage, offices and changing facilities and are linked by a steel platform for maneuvering boats.

The timber framework is clad in low maintenance Cor-ten steel, and sheep's wool is used as insulation. The demolition material from the site was used to create a habitat for insects on the roofs of the buildings in order to encourage bird-life.

The buildings can be dismantled into five parts and removed if the river banks need to be repaired during flooding.

The following information about the project is from Sarah Wigglesworth Architects:


Sarah Wigglesworth Architects have designed and completed new canoeing facilities for children and young people in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

Situated close to the World’s End Estate, and in one of the most deprived wards in the Borough, Cremorne Riverside Centre sits at the eastern edge of Cremorne Gardens, a public park on the north bank of the River Thames overlooking Battersea.

The new facility consists of two buildings: one to house the boat store and offices, the other to provide changing rooms. Both have identical lozenge-shaped plans but with roofs that pitch in opposite directions. They are clad in Cor-ten steel, a low maintenance and vandal-proof material, to resemble rusting boat hulls. The platform between them is made of steel grille-work, which brings the public realm up to the level of the pontoon. It is accessed by a platform lift and a set of stairs. Here canoers can gather for a class and manoeuvre their boats before and after heading for the water. Before they are stored boats can drip dry over the new landscape of rocks and boulders that fills the former training pool below.

The two buildings are constructed out of timber on a steel base, which holds them together for flood removal. The walls are insulated with sheep’s wool from Cumbria. Heating is provided through a ground source heat pump. No demolition material was removed from site as it was used to fill the training tank and to furnish the roofs of the buildings to help create a brown roof. This provides a habitat for spiders and other insects that birds, especially black redstarts, particularly like, and replicates the conditions of redundant urban sites.

The new buildings are sited closer to the river’s edge than is typically permitted and as a result the architects were required by the Environment Agency (EA) to make the buildings removable to allow repairs to be undertaken to the river wall in case of a flood. Accordingly the changing room building is demountable in three sections and the store/office is demountable in two parts. The EA also stipulated that the design team draw up a Method Statement covering the sequence of removal, crane hire, road closures, identification of a site on which to store the parts, design of a lifting structure, services disconnection procedures and so forth, in case of a flood.

Sarah Wigglesworth, Director at Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, said: “When we were appointed the Riverside Centre was run out of a container and a Portakabin. Our designs have ensured a sustainable response to a challenging site to provide an up-to-date facility that accommodates classes of up to 30 children, including those who are disabled.”

Client: Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC)
Project Manager: Bernard Burke: Education, Libraries and Arts, RBKC
Sports Consultant: Mary Mackle: Sports, RBKC
User Group Leader: Macon Khela, Canalside Canoeing Centre
Structural Engineer: Jane Wernick & Associates
M&E Engineer: Richard Pearce
QS: Dobson White Boulcott
Main Contractor: Gilby Construction co Ltd
Cost: £550,000

Cremorne Riveside Centre features in Waterfront London, an exhibition at New London Architecture from 10 January – 23 February at The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London, WC1E 7BT. Opening times, Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm and Saturday, 10am – 5pm. Admission free. T: 020 7636 4044,

Sarah Wigglesworth Architects are experts in low energy and sustainable construction and dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and innovation in design and service. They work on the boundaries between theory and practice, seeking innovative design solutions which address current social and cultural agendas. They are interested in the process by which architecture comes about and view each project as an opportunity for a new exchange of interests and ideas.

Posted on Friday January 18th 2008 at 10:36 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • reminds me of expo 02, switzerland, monolith in murten by jean nouvel

    and, if you got to much money, book to expo:


  • rodger

    a good example of how architects get it wrong.
    material selection is important!!

  • amla

    De Young museum wanna-be

  • Brick

    this building is for children and young people?
    um… where’s the joy?


    I’m really sick of reading comments on dezeen. Almost everybody’s just so negative it makes it sufferingly boring. Instead of just dishing off everything with a reference link it would be much more contributing if people here tried to be critical in a productive way and point out any good things about the designs apart only from the bad.

    No, the architect didn’t pay me to write this.

  • Musser

    Oxotnic has it precisely right! In fact, I’ve been avoiding checking Dezeen of late for this very reason. There is already plenty in this world to depress me. I certainly don’t need to read snotty, boring, envious, childish rants from those who feel superior by their judgmental comments. I’m not talking about those who have a reasoned view. I’m talking about those with nothing to add beyond their venomous banter.

    This is sad because I cherish what Dezeen gives us… even those entries I’m not completely thrilled with. Even then, I learn something. Has the internet made us all cranky, judgmental malcontents?

    For me, I think I’ll swear off my daily visits… hoping that, one day, I can return to this wonderful site and enjoy its bounty without negative diatribes.

  • I agree too. I’ve allowed negative comments through up to now because I don’t believe in censorship, but it’s getting out of hand.

    I know that many of the designers whose work gets slated – especially the young ones – get really upset by it.

    It’s a form of bullying, basically (and this is not specially aimed at the people who have commented on this story – this is pretty mild in comparison to some of the stuff we get).

    Dezeen is supposed to forward the debate about design, not drag it backwards. So from now on I will start to filter out the aggressively negative comments that don’t have anything constructive to say. Musser et al, I don’t want to lose you guys! Stay reading!

    Marcus, Dezeen

  • Andrew

    I can agree with and Musser. It seems some feel that there is a degree of objectivism lacking in recent posts. I can’t speak for others, but try my best to remove my “me” glasses before dispensing my opinion.
    That said, I have to give the nod to “rodger” and “Brick”. Cor-ten steel is wonderful thing. But skinning a building whose intent is to house canoes and boats for both children and adults, hardly seems fitting.
    I fail to see the complimentary parallels between rusting steel buildings, and recreational boating. Bleak indeed.

  • martin sisack

    the comments are the most fun of dezeen, and a bit of colors on the walls wouldn`t hurt anyone…

  • Q

    Nice building.

  • NaRa

    I’m not agree with those guys and Masser, and specially with Marcus to filter the messages of people in order to keep “specially young designers” up. if the are young and they have thousands of people to visit their works per day, that is not possible anyway else off the internet, they should be ready to recieve any kind of critiques, even aggressive ones.
    and I’m sure dezeen would lose more visitors than two if starts cutting and chanelling the comments.

  • Musser

    Thank you, Marcus, for giving me hope. [Frankly, I’d miss my daily visits].

    Let me suggest this…

    If you feel compelled to respond negatively to an entry, fine. Nothing wrong in disagreeing. But, imagine that it’s your sickly grandmother who’s submitted a particular work for review. How would you approach it? You don’t like what she’s done… but, how do you tell her?

    Make your constructive criticism, but be respectful about it. Healthy disagreement is important and downright imperative at times. But, venomous jabs are, at the very least, distracting and potentially scarring.

    Each and every one of the designers who display their work are vulnerable. If you’re a creative individual, you realize this already. These creative people are exposing themselves to you. It’s a tenuous position.

    I realize how easy it is to find fault when one feels disenfranchised about one’s own career. It’s human nature. But, imagine if, one day, you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the position of a ‘windfall project?’ Now, the shoe is on the other foot. Would you be looking forward to hearing nasty, abrasive comments… or, would you prefer helpful, thoughtful, intuitive insight and alternative thought?

  • NaRa

    Thank you, Musser, for your extraordinary admonition of “being contructive and productive”.

    Let me suggest this….

    If you compelled to call the enteries of dildo type towers of Nouvel and Foster negatively, first take 10 deep breathes and then just give a sigh.

    If you found yourself destructive about this rusty building of “facilities for children and youngs” visually the same as those of Nouvel and H&D, De Young Museum, say “god bless them ….was’t that better to use more crimson red”

    I know that art and architecture, specially the latter one are so energy consuming and not deserved to be critisized in a lousy way, but there is something else, who knows what is productive or constructive? this is internet and if we morally are not free to be distructive but we are free to choose what is contructive or distructive by our own.

  • Musser

    I give up.

  • r.n

    All the opinions are valid, positive and negative. One shouldn’t be so naive to think that if they just post positive comments that everything is ok in the world… This building screams Herzog & de Meuron – is that a good or bad thing? Or is the problem just that it’s a bad copy of a H&deM building? – In which case then it IS dissapointing, particularly coming from a practice floated as the next big thing…hyped-up by sugary websites like this…the comments are a refreshing slice of reality.

  • Maiki

    …I agree with the negative comments generally. Maybe make people who make agressively negative comments posys example of their ‘perfect’ design to show they have a clue what they are talking about.

    I like rusty stuff.


  • Maiki

    PS< My spelling ….well…bad…sorry

  • SerenaT

    No, don’t give up.
    I think exactly the same about bumptious, mean comments I sometimes see here.
    The worst thing is that those offensive comments usually say nothing. Just invectives.
    It’s pretty sad to know that many bored, frustrated designers (young or not young) only think about pull colleagues down.
    It’s not only about design…it’s about life.
    This Ocean is full of cold fishes.

    By the way: you’re not a polite citizen of the world, you probably will never be a good designer.

    In the other hand I can’t say I could opt for censorship.
    Well, if I’m not wrong, everybody to post something must leave an email address…Before censoring a supposed abuse moderators could contact the one who posted the “wrong” comment and ask him/her to be a little less offensive, for example…
    Ok, that’s just an idea…what I wanna say it’s that there could be many other ways before censoring indiscriminately or stop reading dezeen (??? Come on! Are you serious guys??? If you really don’t like comments that doesn’t mean that you can’t read all news on dezeen!!!).

    Anyways, once more: Musser, don’t give up. Debating is important.

  • chung

    i don’t really read the comments and don’t know where to place the invective but i wanted to respond because this building seems to walk the line between architect’s indulgence vs presumption of necessary robustness

    i was just looking at this with my sister and i knew we would come down on the shitty/gritty dividing line.

    i like it, but i can see where people are coming from with the bleak comments. to really see if the architects have made an appropriate decision we would need to know who the regular users are and how they like to use the building, whether a magnified sense of bustle and public vitality is possible or even desired or if the straight to business robustness could be taken for granted. we are told that the building is in a poor area and has been made as vandal proof as possible, this seems to be an adequate indication that hyper coloured joy will only come off as cynical and inappropriate. world’s end certainly doesn’t need a dayglo/ikean glob job.

  • kevin

    the idea that one could dispense coherent criticism of a work f architecture after spending a second or two looking at a couple of carefully chosen proof photos, albeit not new, seems to be somhing ivewatched grow common I the last few years. The tremendous transparency that such a forum allows makes a work probably agonized over for years fall past our eyes far too quickly. There are those who make things in this world, and those who don’t. The truth of the matter is, we as a group of observers have lost any true connection to our surroundings. Critique all you want, but until you start contributing yourself, you have no real voice. I love this website because it affords young designersthe opportunity to present their creations to the world. I don’t read the viewer responses often but this one caught my eye. Please, marcus, don’t let negative responses jade your opinion of the tremendous resource you provide for the makers of the world. I hope some day to see some work of my own make it to your board. Its tremendous.

  • kevin

    that last one was sent from an iPhone. Sorry for the typos feel free to correct if you want. No need to post this.

  • rodger

    gosh, what a lot of who har about nothing.
    this wigglesworth woman’s intentions are well founded conceptually, her work is politically correct and the formal solution works nicely. the steps and raised podium between the two buildings works well from an urban standpoint.
    that said, this project’s material solution pinpoints her architectural education to a time when the romantic fantasies of a rebel architect/artist found poetic logic in using corten as a cladding for a public building.
    i think we have moved on from those days about 20 years ago.
    this building is crude in its exterior cladding and its presence in this project is more an act of architectural vanity than of act of public good.
    so i say as before, the over whelming presence this building has is bleak.
    for all the good things about this project, they are worth little when the basic impression the building leaves you is so appalling.

    wake up. richard serra is not an appropriate inspiration for this kind of building, neither are rusting boat hulls.

  • Simon

    Jealous comments from jealous critics. If these critics put forward their work (good or bad) for public forum we too would then be able to judge their work in the way they judge the others. Would they like the harsh criticism and could they handle the personal opinion of others? I like reading the comments but only once I have experienced the feeling of the building, space or design in person am I fully able to comment on it. The inability of a persons mind to comment on the positive is extraordinary. In Australia we call this the “tall poppy syndrome” Cutting others down so that one can feel better about ones self is an ugly trait. Unfortunately in Australia I rarely get the chance to see some of this amazing work (good or bad in my eyes) The fact is that a client has in most cases communicated with the architect or designer and a vision of reality has been created. As a young designer I admire anyone who has had this chance. I don’t have to like the work but I do have a feeling of satisfaction in knowing that a younger generation of new influences is forging a path for people like myself. Some of it may last the test of time, others my disappear as social ideals evolve. It is a growing process and the people who put their work on sites like this should be commended for having the guts to get out there in order to place a mark on the society they live in.


    Checking back after the weekend I’m really amazed by the discussion that started here. Even though I understand Marcus’ concern about negative comments, I think it would really sad to reside in comment moderation among people that actually are interested in design, enough to visit this site and spend some time to leave a comment.

    As a young architect myself, I don’t want to think that only ‘some’ people have the right to say their opinion, but every designer and architect who has actually worked in the real world knows what struggling and time taking the development of a product or a building can be, that the challenges are never one-dimensioned and that final decisions are not only a ‘matter of taste’.

    (I really sound like a bad designer don’t I?)

  • subjection

    Having seen some of the scheme, and some of the comments posted on here! I feel compelled to reply. Firstly, one of the first examples of CoreTen is at the Freie University, in 1967, the building is known as the Rostlaube. Reference’s to the de young seems somewhat tenuous. One being a civic building of international status, and the other being a small community activity centre that serves it’s fundamental purpose of storing canoes, in a deprived inner city area. It seems some people are trying to compare a Bentley with a Mini. The only thing they have in common is the shell is steel. Both designed with different uses and environments.
    The building itself does initially seem a little austere and introverted and appears to do little to open itself to the public spaces around it. However when taking into account the wider issues, you can see why: The site is in a run down area of London, where there is little traffic, be it vehicle or human therefore left open to vandalism. Also it’s adjacent to an industrial wasteland and it reflects this quite well, and will always be remeniscent of the hinterland along parts of the river. The form appears well proportioned and creates space that does it’s best not impede vistas of the river and to address it’s access from the road. Lastly, are we not expecting a little too muchg civic obligation from one small canoe store?

    Perosnally, I think it’s a good reflection of the one time industrial use of the the river. Whilst providing a great contrast to many the sprawling glass monoliths that now occupy the river bank. Given the site, the constraints, and the intended use; it’s a response that does take into account the reality of its location and its context, which so many designers and buildings do not appear to do that these days.

  • tina

    kevin, did you mention the fact that you were sending your comment from an iPhone just because you wanted to apologize or because you wanted to show off?

  • tina

    by the way, I like the rust.

    the building blends perfectly with the surroundings and stands out at the same time.

  • Jazza

    The corten is good and entirely appropriate for the context. The colour of the Thames and the variation in the london light enhances the complexity of the material choice. There is where the joy is, not that it wasn’t just painted yellow/red/green/whatever. Kids are quite sophisticated in their appproeciation of this kind of thing (they have an interest in nature, for instance trees; although naturally coloured, aren’t regarded as ‘bleak’).

    And this is a refreshing contrast to most of the design featured in Dezeen (i.e. pointless plastic furniture items, or materially ambiguous speculative renders of design yet to maybe come probably). Dezeen and its comment contributors are probably a little, shall we say, challenged by this, being more used to opining on the latest Useless Ugly Chair Design That Is Going To Change The World As We Know It.


    One day, making tracks
    In the prarie of prax
    came a north going zax
    and a south going zax.

    And it happened that both of them came to a place
    Where they bumped, where they stood
    Foot to foot and face to face

    Look here now! the north-going zax said ‘I say!’
    You are blocking my path. You are right in my way.
    I’m a north-going zax and I always go north
    Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth

    Who’s in whose way? snapped the south going zax
    I always go south making south going tracks
    So you’re in MY way! And I ask you to move
    And let me go south in my south-going groove

    Then the North going zax puffed up his chest with pride
    I never, he said, take a step to one side
    And I will prove to you that I won’t change my ways
    If I have to keep standing here 59 days!

    And I’ll prove to YOU, yelled the south-going zax,
    That I can stand here in the praire of prax
    For 59 years! For I live by a rule
    That I learned as a boy back in south going school
    Never budge! That’s my rule. Never budge in the least
    Not an inch to the west! Not and inch to the east!
    I’ll stay here, not budging! I can and I will
    If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!

    Of course the world didn’t stand still. The world grew
    In a couple of years, the highway came through
    And they built it right over those two stubborn zax
    And left them there, standing unbudged in their tracks..

    felt the need to lighten the above load… engage individually and honestly, critique with content…

  • fling

    Briliant. Dr. Seuss!
    Why didn’t i think of that?
    Oh yeah – because its completely and utterly irrelevant to any kind of dicussion taking place, maybe that’s why.

  • ad

    good criticism is hard to find- if you’re a one liner critic- give up- if this is the extent of criticism-give up the blog

  • WaterlooSunset

    Spoke to Sarah Wigglesworth recently about all this. She swears she has never seen the HdM building others accuse this of being a bad copy of, and she is not someone to fib (her lectures are a model of straight talking). So maybe the obsession that others have with precedent/copying is more their problem than it is for original and inventive architects like Wigglesworth.

  • asger

    Personally, I don’t think the H&dM building looks anything like this one, I even think the “de young” is clad in copper, not corten steel! I don’t understand why people insist on trying to compare the two?