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.