They’ve been described by critics as ‘trailblazers’ and ‘world-conquering theatre rebels’ who ‘produce immersive theatre on an epic scale’. When pioneering theatre company Punchdrunk moved to the Woolwich Creative District in 2019, they needed a space as impressive as their work. Their new home, in expansive warehouses on the former Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, London needed to be refurbished and reconfigured to host the company’s activities.
Price & Myers provided structural and civil engineering services for the conversion of the Grade II listed warehouses and additional structural advice to improve functionality, accessibility, and circulation. Due to the listed nature of the buildings and the limited tenure of the company’s presence on site, one of the key requirements was for any intervention to be reversible and non-invasive.
Working with Haworth Tompkins Architects, Price & Myers designed a new temporary entrance pavilion to function as a box office, entrance foyer, and passage link during performances. The new structure, also known as One Cartridge Place, connects two historic disused warehouses and provides a recognisable point of entrance from street level. The timber pavilion features polycarbonate panels, and it’s covered in decorative chainmail.
The site presented specific constraints which significantly shaped the design. The temporary structure had to be constructed above an existing cambered road running in between the two listed buildings. The main goal was to avoid undermining the stability of the existing buildings on either side, while also developing the project without breaking into the road or adjoining ground for any foundations.
To achieve all this, the design team developed a supporting system made of sandbag foundations, supplemented with concrete block partitions and timber portal frames, which provide stability to the temporary timber structure This avoided any excavations into the ground
Thanks to the use of sustainable materials and the absence of concrete foundations, the pavilion has produced 74 kgCO2eq/m² only, making it one of the lowest embodied carbon designs per square metre that we have achieved
On the banks of the Thames in southeast London, the world’s most innovative immersive theatre company has served as the catalyst for this inventive regeneration of former military infrastructure.