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Built during WWII for the restoration of boats, Boathouse 4 is an excellent example of a 20th century naval boathouse, with a saw-tooth roof, corrugated iron facades and a reinforced concrete and steel framed interior. It is the only boathouse known to have been constructed in a home dockyard during the rapid re-armament period of the 1930s, and in the context of its location within H.M. Naval Base in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, demonstrates the evolution of dockyard buildings since the 17th century. The owners, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, wanted to realise its potential and promote its historic value as a timber boatbuilding enterprise, upholding teaching skills that would otherwise be lost.

Following a successful HLF Stage 1 bid and invited competition Walters & Cohen was appointed in December 2012. Our design for a multi-purpose facility reuses the existing building, whose prominent location makes it an important gateway to the dockyard. The building houses a boatbuilding academy, exhibition space and restaurant, making it a pleasant destination for visitors. The restaurant, on a new mezzanine level, overlooks the main space and provides views to Gosport, making the most of the site and location.

We have taken advantage of and retained the industrial feel of the building, resolving issues of safety and noise by enclosing certain areas of the boatbuilding academy, and leaving as much on view as possible for a quality visitor experience.

In 2016 the project won the Portsmouth Society's Design Award for Best Reuse, and was shortlisted for the AJ Retrofit Award as well as awards from RIBA South, the BCI, WAF and the Civic Trust. In March 2017 the building received a commemorative visit from HRH The Princess Royal.

Client Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust
Completion September 2015
Area 3,400 m2
QS Focus Consultants
Structure Jane Wernick Associates
Building Services Max Fordham LLP
Contractor Interserve
Project manager Focus Consultants
Exhibition design Real Studios
Funding Partner Heritage Lottery Fund
Acoustics Max Fordham LLP
Fire Safety Fusion Fire
Heritage consultant Conservation Plus

Culture and Community


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