Adam Richards Architects has designed a custom-built barge which will provide a unique setting to a new London restaurant, The Cheese Barge. The floating restaurant creates a new distinctive focal point and destination for Paddington Central and the wider area. Commissioned by British Land to be permanently moored at Paddington Central, just south of Little Venice, The Cheese Barge will add to the vibrancy of the campus, which comprises office, residential and retail, while also attracting local visitors and tourists.

Location: Sheldon Square, Paddington, W2 6HY
Site area: 101m2
Internal floor area: 71m²
Construction dates: Aug 2019 – late summer 2020
Client: British Land
Architect: Adam Richards Architects
Project architects: Adam Richards, Michael Vale
Project manager: CPC Project Services LLP
Internal fit-out: Raven Collective
Naval architect: CP Heath Marine
Fabricator: Darren Gervis, Marine Fabrications
M&E engineer: CP Heath Marine
Photography: ©Brotherton Lock

The Cheese Barge By Adam Richards Architects - Sheet2
©Brotherton Lock

The design draws on local heritage and complements the surrounding boats, while standing out with its original and distinctive appearance. The boat’s curving, sloping roof is clad externally in verdigris-coloured patinated metal. On the underside of this roof, a copper colour is visible from inside the boat, creating a warm and convivial interior as it gathers

the light reflected off the surface of the water. The fit-out is enhanced by a natural material palette of oak and recycled elements. Raven Collective’s interior integrates nautical references in the form of reclaimed ship passageway wall lights, boat cleats and buoy-like table lamps, reflecting the ethos of traditional and thoughtful British craftsmanship as seen in restaurateur Mathew Carver’s flagship restaurant, The Cheese Bar.

The Cheese Barge By Adam Richards Architects - Sheet3
©Brotherton Lock

Adam Richards Architects’ design was the winning entry in a design competition organised by British Land in spring 2018. The design takes inspiration from James Stirling’s Electa bookshop pavilion in the gardens of the Venice Biennales (Giardini della Biennale), which is itself inspired by nautical design. In researching the Paddington area, the practice found further inspiration in a story from local history. Hertha Marks Ayrton, a pioneer female electrical engineer, lived in Paddington from 1903-23. She was the first woman to speak at

the Royal Society, the first female recipient of the Royal Society’s prestigious Hughes Medal, and the author of The Electric Arc. Copper is commonly used in electrical experiments due to its high levels of conductivity, and the barge’s signature roof and interiors are inspired by Ayrton’s story.

Designed for flexibility of use and future-proofed for a range of different operators, the restaurant is located in the main 20 metre (65 foot)-long barge, and the kitchen is treated as an ancillary space accommodated in a separate, smaller boat; the two spaces are linked by an external bridge which will provide a theatrical stage for the arrival of food to diners. The main barge draws on the forms of traditional British canal boats, its roof structure suggesting both the tarpaulin covers used on working canal barges, and the traditional inclined sides of canal boats. The smaller boat is inspired by traditional nautical buoys, used to warn ships of hazards using colour, flags or lights. By placing the kitchen in the buoy, the amount of usable floor area in the main boat for restaurant seating is maximised.

The Cheese Barge By Adam Richards Architects - Sheet4
©Brotherton Lock

The Cheese Barge entrance is at the level of the towpath, with a dining platform and accessible toilet at this level, making the restaurant inclusive for all guests. Further seating is at the lower level, increasing the number of covers to 40. A band of glazing sweeps around the sides and front of the boat, giving diners generous views of the canal and towpath and granting passers-by a glimpse inside.

The terrace on the upper deck is encircled by a demountable balustrade, allowing the boat to pass through the locks and tunnels of the canal system when in transit. The boat is formed from a skeleton of steel framing elements clad in steel plates, which have been assembled and welded by hand by a marine fabricator in Somerset.

Adam Richards, Director, Adam Richards Architects, said:

“It is wonderful to be asked to design a space for the pleasurable activity of eating and drinking on the canal. The barge creates a festive and sophisticated environment, whilst drawing on the heritage of narrow-boat design and local social history. It has also been an opportunity to pay homage to James Stirling’s Electa bookshop in Venice: one of my favourite buildings. That building was inspired by the designs of boats — so it was fun to design a boat based on a building based on a boat!”

©Brotherton Lock

Amanda Raven, Head of Asset Management, Paddington Central, said:

“We’re really excited to welcome The Cheese Barge to Paddington Central. We’ve invested significantly to improve the retail and leisure offering and this new floating restaurant perfectly complements the increasingly diverse selection of restaurants and bars, both on the campus and along the canal.”

Mathew Carver, restaurateur, The Cheese Barge, said:

“Hailing from Jersey, I spent my childhood years messing around in boats. So, when the opportunity of opening The Cheese Barge came along, we couldn’t say no! The fact that it was British-made by real craftsmen and designed by some of the best British architects appealed to our continued efforts to support British industry. Win, win! We’ve always set out to create fun restaurant experiences, and what could be more fun than eating the best of British cheese on the Grand Union Canal.”

Adam Richards Architects is an award-winning architectural practice with a reputation for making highly-crafted buildings for the arts, cultural, heritage and private residential sectors.

Founded in 2002 by Adam Richards, who trained at Cambridge University, ARA has design studios in Shoreditch, London and Sussex. The work of the practice is characterised by a drive to engage critical, spatial, social and structural propositions to transform the deeper cultural themes of what are often unique objects and unusual sites in heritage settings.

In 2013 Adam Richards Architects gained international recognition for the critically acclaimed Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, which was chosen by the Sunday Times as the architectural highlight of the year and was nominated for the Mies van der Rohe Prize 2015. A book capturing ARA’s realisation of the project, ‘Designing for Ditchling’, was published in 2015.

Nithurst Farm, a new house in the South Downs National Park, has received multiple awards including an RIBA National Award and an RIBA South East Building of the Year 2019. The house was a finalist in the RIBA House of the Year 2019 and won Best New Private House in the *Wallpaper Design Awards 2020.

English Heritage’s Walmer Castle and Gardens Learning Centre and Café in Deal, Kent, was completed in 2019. As well as designing a new-build 70m² multipurpose Learning Centre — the site’s first new substantial building for 145 years — and a new café in a repurposed glasshouse, the practice has reorganised the gardeners’ compound and set within the landscape a newly-commissioned stair, enriching visitors’ experience of the site.

The Cheese Truck and The Cheese Bar

World Cheese Awards judge Mathew Carver founded The Cheese Truck in 2014. Along with his converted 1970s ice cream van, Archie, Mathew set out on a mission to celebrate and promote the best of British cheese by making the most irresistible grilled cheese sandwiches in London. Fast forward three years and, after a successful crowdfunding campaign (reaching his funding target of £130,000 in just six days) Mathew opened his flagship restaurant, The Cheese Bar, in the historic Grade 2-listed Camden Stables Market.

The restaurant’s menu champions a new breed of cheese makers through its inventive, cheese-focused small plates and sharing dishes. Some are making cheese in a traditional and thoughtful way, whilst others are pushing the boundaries of cheesemaking, and shaking up an industry that was previously facing decline.

The Cheese Bar is an official training partner for the Academy of Cheese, offering the Associate Level One Course from February 2020.

Paddington Central

Paddington Central is an 11-acre mixed use campus close to Paddington station in London’s West End. It’s approximately 15 minutes’ walk from Marble Arch and is well served by Paddington station, a major London rail and tube interchange, with excellent connections to Heathrow airport via the newly opened Heathrow Express and Crossrail in 2018. Paddington will be one of only three Crossrail stations in the West End, which will improve connections from the West End to the City and Canary Wharf.

British Land bought a majority ownership of the campus in July 2013, comprising three of the seven buildings and the retail and leisure cluster, totalling 610,000 sq ft, along with 350,000 sq ft of consented development. As part of the acquisition British Land also acquired the freehold in respect of 200 residential units sold to St. George on long leases which sit above the retail area. Following the acquisition of One Sheldon Square, British Land owns four buildings and 800,000 sq ft of space.

Paddington Central has become a thriving community and is home to some of the world’s biggest corporations including Microsoft, Accor, Kingfisher, and Statoil. The office buildings are set amongst two landscaped squares and are situated on the waterside location on the Grand Union Canal, offering an attractive working environment enhanced by a gym, cafes and eateries.

British Land

Our portfolio of high quality UK commercial property is focused on London offices and retail. We own or manage a portfolio valued at £14.8bn (British Land share: £11.2bn) as at 31 March 2020 making us one of Europe’s largest listed real estate investment companies.

Our strategy is to provide places which meet the needs of our customers and respond to changing lifestyles – Places People Prefer. We do this by creating great environments both inside and outside our buildings and use our scale and placemaking skills to enhance and enliven them. This expands their appeal to a broader range of occupiers, creating enduring demand and driving sustainable, long term performance.

Our Offices portfolio comprises three office-led campuses in central London as well as high quality standalone buildings and accounts for 60% of our portfolio. Our Retail portfolio is focused on retail parks and shopping centres, and accounts for 35% of our portfolio.

Increasingly our focus is on providing a mix of uses and this is most evident at Canada Water, our 53 acre redevelopment opportunity where we have plans to create a new neighbourhood for London.

Sustainability is embedded throughout our business. Our places, which are designed to meet high sustainability standards, become part of local communities, provide opportunities for skills development and employment and promote wellbeing. In April 2016 British Land received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development, the UK’s highest accolade for business success for economic, social and environmental achievements over a period of five years.


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