Student Centre, Universities at Medway

Chatham Maritime, 2017

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The Swimming Baths and Bowling Alley were built in 1902 and formed part of the former Royal Naval Barracks at Chatham Dockyards which alongside Portsmouth formed one of six Royal Naval Dockyards in England. Following the closure of the Dockyard, the buildings were partly occupied by the Natural Resources Institute but the swimming baths complex were left unused and gradually deteri­orated until the site was acquired by the Universities at Medway. 

Dannatt Johnson Architects were appointed to convert and develop the grade II listed former swimming baths into a Student Hub incor­por­ating facilities for the Student Union, licensed and non-licensed social spaces, a bar and kitchen. 

Ongoing consultation with the student body and estates management ensured that a sense of ownership of the project and the building was developed and the facility has been enthu­si­ast­ically welcomed following its completion in December 2016.

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The building has undergone extensive repair work to enhance the buildings energy and structural performance. The design incor­porates a new mezzanine floor installed over part of the former swimming pool providing an acous­tically controlled space allowing multiple uses. The enclosure is suspended within the space with minimum connections to the existing building while offering new appre­ci­ation of its structure and fabric.

Through close collab­or­ation with Medway Council’s Conservation Department a strategy evolved around three themes:

  • To repair and adapt the existing building fabric with a light touch, retaining the patina of the existing building and visibility of its original purpose
  • To retain the spatial identity and appre­ci­ation of the volume of the building by carefully integrating and exposing the new accom­mod­ation and services installation
  • To ensure that the new inter­ven­tions are reversible and celebrate the spirit of the existing function and memories of the building

Client: University of Greenwich

Filed to: Historic Buildings, Learning & Workspace

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