Woolwich Works is London’s newest multi-disciplinary cultural hub for the arts. Designed by Bennetts Associates and delivered by Mace, five Grade II and Grade II* listed historic buildings on the Royal Arsenal have been transformed into 15,000sqm of flexible space for performance, events, training and education.
Opening in September 2021, the multi-million-pound council-led project will serve the local community and provide access to a diverse array of music, theatre, dance, spoken word, comedy and exhibitions. Woolwich Works will also become home to internationally acclaimed local performing arts companies including theatre company Punchdrunk, Europe's first majority black and minority ethnic orchestra Chineke! Orchestra, as well as National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), Greenwich-based dance company Protein and the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair.
Working closely with the client throughout the design process, the project team helped identify the types of uses and tenants that would work well with the existing buildings, rather than undertaking significant works to the buildings to accommodate the requirements of less naturally aligned uses. This considered approach was complemented across all design disciplines.
Working with conservation architect Consarc, Bennetts Associates’ approach to the historic buildings was primarily light touch. The munitions factories have been stripped back and opened up to reveal roof trusses and brickwork that have been sensitively repaired in order to celebrate the history of the buildings, rather than conceal it under new finishes. The approach to the internal environment was addressed in a similar fashion – working with BuroHappold, the design was developed to temper the environment of these ‘found’ spaces – doing what was necessary to provide a suitable internal condition but not striving to meet onerous design criteria.
Mace, as main contractor on the scheme, played a key role in bringing the client’s and design team’s vision to life, ensuring that the complex and sensitive scheme on a landlocked site was delivered to the highest possible quality, safety and sustainability standards – including the impressive achievement of zero reportable injuries during the project’s two-year delivery phase.