Dezeen Magazine

The boat is moored along a towpath

Adam Richards Architects tops floating Cheese Barge with patinated aluminium roof

London architecture studio Adam Richards Architects has designed a boat informed by architect James Stirling's Venice bookshop for a floating cheese-focused restaurant in London.

Permanently moored in Paddington, the barge was commissioned by British Land as the home for The Cheese Bar restaurant.

The Cheese Bar restaurant has opened in London
Top: The floating Cheese Bar restaurant is moored in Paddington. Above: the design was informed by a James Stirling-designed bookshop

The Cheese Barge was built by Adam Richards Architects after a competition was held by the developer.

Its design takes cues from the area's local heritage, surrounding traditional canal boats and was directly informed by James Stirling's boat-informed Electa bookshop pavilion in Venice.

The interior can be seen by passers by
A green aluminium cowl wraps around the barge

"There was something really nice about designing a boat that was based on a building that was based on a boat," Adam Richards told Dezeen.

"The barge creates a festive and sophisticated environment, whilst drawing on the heritage of narrow-boat design and local social history."

Windows wrap around the dining area at the cheese barge
The restaurant's roof references tarpaulin

The restaurant was built within a 20-metre-long boat and has a rooftop deck above it.

Attached to the rear of the restaurant is a buoy-like structure that houses the kitchen, which is linked to the restaurant by an external bridge.

The exterior of the barge is characterised by its patinated aluminium-clad roof that wraps around the boat, referencing blue tarpaulin covers that are typically used to conceal goods on working canal boats.

Its roof terrace is enveloped within a steel balustrade that is fitted to a section of the patinated roof. When needed this element can be de-mounted allowing the boat to pass under bridges and through tunnels.

The Cheese barge has a rounded front
It has a terrace space on its roof

"We were interested in canal boats, which were typically open barges that used tarpaulin to protect what is on there," Richards explained. "The green cowl is a formalisation of the tarpaulin."

"A zigzag runs around the roof, which partly came from a building designed by Otto Wagner on the Danube canal that used ornament to speak of the function of the building. It's a visual cue to do with waves a water."

The Cheese Bar restaurant has views onto the canal
The restaurant has large glass windows

Inside, the boat's industrial look is continued. Interior design studio Raven Collective used light woods with natural finishes combined with recycled plastics and stone across tabletops and surfaces.

Nautical motifs were used throughout the Cheese Bar's interior, with reclaimed ship wall lights, boat cleats and nautical table lamps adorning the space.

The interior of the cheese barge has wood finishes
The Cheese Bar restaurant's dining space has a nautical look

From within the restaurant, the underside of the patinated roof is visible and provides a warm copper hue to the interior.

Glazed panels encase the restaurant allowing diners to see out to the canal and towpath, while also providing passers-by with glimpses of the interior.

The Cheese Bar restaurant is on a barge
It used recycled and reclaimed materials and objects

"The fact that it was British-made by real craftsmen and designed by some of the best British architects appealed to our continued efforts to support British industry," said The Cheese Bar founder Matthew Carver.

"We've always set out to create fun restaurant experiences, and what could be more fun than eating the best of British cheese on the Grand Union Canal."

Adam Richards Architects was founded in 2002 and recently completed an education centre on the grounds of a 16th-century castle in Kent. Richards modelled his own home on the ruins of a Roman villa.

Photography is by Brotherton Lock.

Project credits:

Architect: Adam Richards Architects
Project architects: Adam Richards, Michael Vale
Project manager: CPC Project Services
Internal fit-out: Raven Collective
Naval architect: CP Heath Marine
Fabricator: Darren Gervis, Marine Fabrications
M&E engineer: CP Heath Marine

More images and plans

Axonometric drawing of the boat
It has a detachable roof
The Cheese Barge is moored alongside a bridge