Cutty Sark by Grimshaw


Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

London architects Grimshaw have completed the restoration of historic tea clipper the Cutty Sark, which reopened to the public today in Greenwich.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

The architects have completely repaired the vessel's deck and rigging, which were severely damaged in a fire in 2006, and have raised the entire ship three metres above its dry dock to create an underground exhibition hall below.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

A glazed structure surrounding the ship forms a roof canopy over this hall, bridging the space between the ground and the hull.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

This structure also integrates an entrance, where a bridge leads across into the ship and stairs climb down into the space beneath.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

If you're interested in boats, check out all our stories about them.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

Photography is by Jim Stephenson, apart from where otherwise stated.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

Above: photograph is by Grimshaw

Here's some more information from Grimshaw:

Her Majesty The Queen Reopens Cutty Sark on 25 April 2012

On Wednesday 25 April, Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, officially reopens Cutty Sark, the world’s last surviving tea clipper and one of Britain’s greatest maritime treasures, following an extensive conservation project, with major support totalling £25 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The following day (26 April) the ship opens to visitors for the first time since 2006.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

Above: photograph is by Grimshaw

Also, today (13 April 2012) the Trustees of Cutty Sark and the Trustees of Royal Museums Greenwich are pleased to announce that following her completion, the ship will come under the operational management of Royal Museums Greenwich.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

Above: photograph is by Grimshaw

Lord Sterling, Chairman of both Royal Museums Greenwich and the Cutty Sark Trust, said “Cutty Sark holds a unique place in the heart for the people of Greenwich, Great Britain and indeed the rest of the world, and it is splendid that she is re-joining the London skyline once again. Cutty Sark is set in the newly landscaped Cutty Sark Gardens, created by Greenwich Council, one of our strongest supporters. We are indebted to those members of the public, from all over the world, who have generously contributed to the preservation of this much loved national treasure. We are also deeply appreciative of the many other major institutions, government bodies and foundations that have played a key role in providing the funds. In particular, our deep thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund who have supported the project and stood by Cutty Sark through its difficult times, particularly following the fire, and allocating £25 million of public money raised through the National Lottery.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

Above: photograph is by Grimshaw

Cutty Sark’s re-launch comes in an exceptional year for Greenwich, which was granted the status of Royal Borough in February, and will have the eyes of the world upon it during The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer. On 25 June 1957 Her Majesty opened Cutty Sark to the public for the first time and we are delighted that on 25 April, this year, The Queen and HRH Duke of Edinburgh, who has been President of the Cutty Sark Trust since 1951, will return to re-open the ship.”

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

Above: photograph is by Grimshaw

Richard Doughty, Director of the Cutty Sark Trust, said: “We have been privileged to be involved in conserving Cutty Sark and restoring her to her key position in the Greenwich World Heritage Site. Our solution, a world first, will secure Cutty Sark’s future so that she can continue to inspire many new generations of adventurers at the heart of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.”

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

Above: photograph is by Grimshaw

Kevin Fewster, Director of Royal Museums Greenwich, said: “Cutty Sark is an iconic London landmark and a much loved part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. Bringing Cutty Sark into the Royal Museums Greenwich family strengthens the links between some of the key attraction of this unique World Heritage Site and helps us to explore the extraordinary maritime stories we have to tell.”

The re-launch marks the start of an exciting new chapter in the extraordinary life of the world famous, three-masted clipper. It is the culmination of six years’ work and one of the most complex conservation projects ever undertaken on a historic ship. The project has succeeded in rescuing Cutty Sark and preventing her collapse, whilst preserving as much of the ship’s original fabric from the period of her working life as possible. Moreover, the innovative scheme also provides generations to come with a new way to engage with the ship and explore her history.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

Above: photograph is by Grimshaw

In a brilliant feat of engineering, Cutty Sark has been raised 11 feet (3.3 meters) into the air, relieving the keel of the weight of the ship and preserving her unique shape. For the first time, visitors can walk underneath the ship and view the elegant lines of her hull, revealing the innovative design which was the secret to her success - enabling her to reach the record-breaking speed of 17 ½ knots (20 mph/32kmph) from Sydney to London. The space also showcases Cutty Sark’s extensive collection of over 80 ships’ figureheads, never before displayed in its entirety on the site.

The ship’s weather deck and rigging have been painstakingly restored to their original specification, with 11 miles (17.5 km) of rigging supporting the masts. Below deck visitors can explore Cutty Sark’s rich and varied history through new interactive exhibitions.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

Above: photograph is by Grimshaw

Launched in 1869 from Dumbarton, Scotland, Cutty Sark visited most major ports around the world. She carried cargo ranging from the finest teas to gunpowder, and from whisky to buffalo horns. Cutty Sark made her name as the fastest ship of her era during her time in the wool trade. Many of the tea clippers that sailed the China Seas during the nineteenth century lasted for only a few years and only seven saw the twentieth century. By the mid-1920s Cutty Sark was the only one still afloat and from 1938 became a training ship for the Incorporated Thames Training College at Greenhithe.

Cutty Sark by Grimshaw

Above: photograph is by Grimshaw

In December 1954, due to the great efforts of The Duke of Edinburgh, Cutty Sark came to Greenwich where she became, and remains, a memorial to the great days of sail and to all those who served in the merchant service.

  • nitchy14

    Oh my god. I'm really impressed. This is a nice way to visit a boat. Love it!!!

  • alex

    can you go inside the ship itself?

  • Cornballer

    From the inside this is stunning and elegant. But from the outside it's really quite ugly, especially the entrance. Still a great project though.

    • Agree with that – from the outside, on a par with a B&Q greenhouse.

      And I empathise with traditionalists who object to covering up the hull in this way.

      Which makes the idea of building a replica for sail training such a terrific thought – the two vessels would complement each other very well indeed.

  • Waynetta Slob

    Stunning, can't wait to see this!

  • 3dd

    It's for the reason, they mostly put internal images. From outside this glazing looks very ugly and outdated.

  • ivo

    A boat just crashed the British museum!

    • 3dd

      Best way to describe it!

  • Pli

    Oh my God. You can't see it!
    They used the ship as a roofing element for the space created beneath!
    I think that they could create some sort of shallow artificial pool around it with a catwalk. This way, visitors could see it floating, walk around it and visit below the hull.

  • Fantastic project…creates a beautiful way to engage with this artifact. I'd love to see if and how they added supports internal to the ship for it to rest on the new structure.

  • ben

    disappointing, the glass was supposed to represent a bow wave, but has seemingly been value engineered to a point where this effect is lost.

    Moreover, the structural interventions are criminal. They have skewered the ship like a kebab. Thoroughly disrespectful.

  • OMG !
    What a stunning image.
    Designer have great creativity!
    Love the structure of roof and the way they merge it with big boat!

  • Not bad at all! Im impressed. Just wished the window frames weren't so visible from the inside but it looks like a magnificent interior space where you can enjoy the presence of such a fantastic boat, and also learn about its history…

  • Syd

    Horrible 80s glass box. Should have been set level / flush with the ground with a thin layer of water on top.instead looks like the CS landed on a bus station waiting room
    Experience from below is great though..

  • Theo

    Very similar to Alec French's SS Great Britain in Bristol, although this scheme lacks a certain elegance that the SSGB has.

    The white steel is a bit of an ungainly cats cradel where the SSGB used glass beams and has a shallow pool on top, so it really looks like the ship is in water and you are below it.

    Still, a good way to experiance a ship.

  • okpala

    the way it shrouds the vessel, it takes away all the majestic beauty of Cutty Sark. It is the worst display one can imagine for a historical monument…

  • loz

    They could have achieved that same space under the hull just by glazing between the struts. The glazed volume exists solely to prevent you seeing the ship from the street, so you pay the £12 entrance fee. It is sad that they had to deny everybody, paying or otherwise, the view of the ship as a whole at close quarters to achieve this.

  • Kat

    Very dissapointing and unelegant solution. Pure absece of imagination at Grimshaw architects.

  • The raised position is great, but the glass enclosure is a fail. It's far too static and obstructive. Perhaps using more modern modeling of the structure could have allowed the glass to mimic the rise and fall of waves around the hull. As it is, the additional exhibition space below comes at the expense of the overall impact of the vessel itself. Not the best trade-off…

  • glp

    to lay agree and echo the comment on the more appropriate and elegant glass solution at the SS Great Britain in Bristol. –

    • Pli

      That's exactly what I was trying to describe. And well executed!

    • xtiaan

      wow thats way cooler, and far more sympathetic

  • Deptford lad

    If you think this structure is bad from the outside, you should see the new ferry terminal/chain restaurant building next to it and between the Royal Naval College and the river – it's horrendous beyond words and of course nothing like the building that was originally given planning approval.

  • Nelly

    Echoing other peoples comments, more attention should have been paid to the outside. Looks great from the inside though!

  • peter bessey

    The problem seems to arise from the fact that in order to achieve the undercroft idea by lifting the hull, they have created a mismatch with the surrounding dock area, from which most of the public actually view the ship. Although both ships lie in real and historic dry docks, unlike the successful treatment of the SS Great Britain restoration site, this one has lost its connection with the dock surroundings. With the Great Britain, you are still able to look down on the ship’s true waterline. So realism is quite easy to achieve. But with the Cutty Sark now, your viewing point on the dock is below the normal waterline. So the surrounding glass cladding becomes an unfortunate obstruction to viewing the whole ship in its context alongside the river. Without lifting the viewer to a level above the canopy, a natural viewing of the above-water line hull seems to be no longer possible. Whether that omission is due to limited financial resources or by design, it has resulted in a real loss to the community, that is offset by the opportunity to see under the whole hull from within the structure. But above all, there is not much sympathetic linking of form between enclosure and ship.

  • Nino

    Would have been more poetic to put the boat in real water – rather than the most clunky looking glazing/skewer system combo – above a glazed ceiling so you could walk underneath and see the light dappling above your head….

    man I'm good.

  • Eric Cowell

    All Cutty Sark now needs to complete the insult to a great ship is Pan flying from the yards and Hook, Smee and the pirates fighting the lost boys on the plywood teak veneered deck. I am truly disgusted.

  • Doff

    A crime done on such a beautiful ship and importante symbol of England…

  • xtiaan

    Im with the crowd on this one
    inside beautiful, outside terrible.

  • wiggiatlarge

    The lines of the Cutty Sark, the one thing of beauty that one goes to see, have been completely ruined by this display. It looks like it’s fallen into a glass doughnut. And who was responsible for thinking those appalling information boards along the side added to the experience?

  • james higham

    Absolutely awful – the lines have just disappeared. Whoever did it should be shot.

  • Marcia

    I visited it about twelve years ago, and it was still a full experience. This high tech dream is literally too dry for a vessel of this magnitude. Such a shame this project got approval, in my opinion. If they wanted people to admire her from the bottom as well, maybe an aquarium sort of thing would be better – but never this hideous glass cube around it!

  • Awesome! An inspirational experience that led me to create in my own field. Many Thanks to Grimshaw Architects, I wrote a poem called ‘Ode to Nannie Dee’.

  • I’m not to sure what to make of this. I love the Cutty Sark, but am not sure if I like the whole housing thing they have recently done with it. It looks good, I just don’t think it’s appropriate for the ship!