New London Awards 2021 Winner - The Cheese Barge
Winner in the WELCOMING category
Adam Richards Architects has designed a custom-built barge on the Grand Union Canal, which will provide a unique setting to a new London restaurant, The Cheese Barge. The floating restaurant creates a distinctive focal point and destination for Paddington Central and the wider area. Commissioned by British Land, The Cheese Barge will add to the vibrancy of this recently-developed area, while also attracting local visitors and tourists. The design connects this new development with the deeper history of the area, and will reinforce the importance of London’s canals for life in the city.
The main restaurant barge draws on the forms of traditional British canal boats, its roof structure suggesting both the inclined sides and tarpaulin covers used on traditional barges. The smaller boat containing the kitchen is inspired by traditional nautical buoys. The design takes inspiration from James Stirling’s Electa bookshop pavilion in the Biennale gardens in Venice, which is itself inspired by nautical design, and from the story of Hertha Marks Ayrton, a local suffragette and pioneering female scientist, whose use of copper in experiments influenced the boat’s verdigris metal roof. On the underside of this roof, a copper colour is visible from inside the boat, creating a warm and convivial interior for diners as it gathers the light reflected off the surface of the water.
The barge restaurant turns the canal’s tow-path into a vibrant public piazza, enhanced by its rooftop terrace, and shows how developments can improve the public realm. Designed for flexibility of use and future-proofed for a range of different operators, the barge was able to be towed to its mooring through London’s 200 year-old canal system thanks to its demountable superstructure design.
The barge base build was nautically engineered from lightweight, recyclable materials to reduce the weight and carbon footprint of the project. The interior fit out uses sustainable materials where possible. These include recycled cork and carbon neutral sheet flooring made from flax seed oil, wood flour and jute. The barge makes a positive contribution to the social setting of Paddington Central, enhancing the public realm of the tow path, whilst also accommodating a small business that provides local employment to the area. Its flexible design can be easily adapted to accommodate future uses
International Jury Quotes
I like this nod to Stirling, this kind of weird nod to the Venice Biennial. This isn’t community amenity as much as a nice place to go, but it adds context to the area. It is an unusual hospitality offering and very innovative.
The cheese barge is very photogenic. I like the reference to the Stirling project in Venice. It is pretty pretty nice. Pathologically it is really quite innovative and we would like to honour that effort.