Gold & Structural Award Winner 2011
Building Owner: The Alice Trust
Architect: Stephen Marshall Architects
Builder / Main Contractor: Kingerlee
Structural Engineers: Thornton Tomasetti
Joinery: Green Oak Carpentry Ltd
Wood Species: European Oak
The brief for the project comprises space for the Rothschild Foundation Archive and office space for the charity investment organisation. The archive space includes the main library reading room, offices for archive staff and the archive stores themselves. These three activities are formed round three sides of a sloping garden with the fourth side open to views to the south. The charity investment offices are within a two-story space across the courtyard garden from the reading room. This building contains, meeting rooms and open plan office space set within a building similar in appearance to the archive group. Between the office building and the archive group is situated the courtyard. This space is very important as it provides a formally landscaped garden that serves as the arrival courtyard to the whole project.
The construction of the buildings in timber was inspired by the former use of the site as a farm populated by timber barns with vertical boarding and roof trusses. The main space in the scheme, the archive reading room, was designed as a modern reinterpretation of a barn structure. The structural frame is a timber diagrid formed from european oak glulam beams veneered in european prime grade oak. Over the beams is a stressed skin ply roof again with an oak veneer finish. On the north side the structure is carried to ground with solid oak V columns next to full height glazing. On the south side of the reading room the structure of the roof is supported from steel posts hidden within 4.5m high oak pivot doors. This reading room structure is complemented by oak flooring, oak bookcases and bespoke reading tables. The cladding of the archive barns adjacent to the reading room is formed in european oak vertical boarding with oak ledged and braced doors and shutters. A similar treatment is used on the two storey office building across the courtyard.