Merit: Walthamstow Wetlands
Architects: Witherford Watson Mann,
Kinnear Landscape Architects
Structural engineer: Entuitive
Steelwork contractor: Gorge Fabrications Ltd
Main contractor: Rooff Ltd
Client: London Borough of Waltham ForestThe London Borough of Waltham Forest tasked the design team with providing the facilities necessary for opening the Walthamstow Reservoirs site to free public access. This would require pedestrian entrances and bridges, a foot and cycle-path through the site connecting to the wider Lea Valley, signage and interpretation, and a small car park.
An important part of the project was the conversion of two disused infrastructure buildings – the locally listed Engine House and the Grade II-listed Coppermill Tower. They were to be adapted into an exhibition space, an education room, café, toilets, and a viewing platform.
“The buildings were originally designed for large machines, and were made up of cellular brick boxes, largely disconnected. A series of steel gantries, stairs and lifts link the rooms, mitigate their grand scale, mix the activities and provide elevated viewpoints,” explains Witherford Watson Mann Project Architect William Mann.
Within the buildings, the steel structures are said to recall the machines that once occupied these voids, and temper the infrastructural scale for the human body.
Summing up, the judges say the team has successfully given a nod to the former industrial heritage of the building through the use of steel in many manifestations to highlight wayfinding and new interventions throughout this sensitive conversion.
Both images: © Heini Schneebeli