King William building, which now forms a part of the University of Greenwich Campus
was originally created as a part of the Royal Naval Hospital at Greenwich. On
the order of Queen Mary II the King Charles wing of the Greenwich hospital palace
was to be remodelled as a naval hospital.
1698 works began on King William Court to the design of Sir Christopher Wren,
the hall and dome being completed in 1703. The western facade was overseen by Sir
John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor who took over from Christopher Wren, finally
completing his plans in 1728.
The King William
building is constructed in red London stocks brick and buff brick to the
central portico section. Both brick types formed from a blend of clays sourced
in the Thames basin. Given the period of the building this work would be laid in a
lime mortar as it predates the introduction of cementitious mortars. The brick
will be traditionally English bond or Flemish bond. Construction will be brick,
masonry and timber (generally) with minor enhancements from some tensile steel
elements (ties, chains) with
Portland stone dressings, and stone facade and quoining. The brick element is actually
the ‘budget’ element of this style of building. While the colour difference
between the masonry elements proved fashionable, in reality this stemmed from
Flanked to the main
entrance vista stairway stand paired Tuscan pilasters with recessed,
balustraded raised landing above. The upper level is enhanced and framed by
Portland Stone from the Isle of Portland Dorset and York stone paving these are both
sedimentary stone, although Portland is an oolitic Lime Stone York a sandstone.
This is a familiar combination in London with buildings of the period with both
the design and materials being of a high quality. Wren is known to personally
select stone block from the best beds of stone in the Portland quarries, often
marking those selected with his wine glass motive mark ready for transportation
to the city.
under capitals of the Composite order of Greco Roman classical architecture. Composite columns
supporting enriched entablature complete the vista approaching the grand
The Ground level
is comprised of sprung semi-circular brick arches, which would have been formed
on timber formwork encasing recessed sash windows; these windows are traditional
timber framed and single glazed with Geogian glazing bars. The first floor has
taller round arched windows. Deep recess oval windows with glazing bars
decorate the front façade with segment headed 2nd floor windows
include drip mould and cill band.
form of architectural design is derived from two main routes, the first being
pure geometry. All of the setting out having been meticulously plotted out
using mathematics, from the simple mouldings right up to the enthesis used to
reduce the foreshortening of the columns and pilasters. The second element
being functionality. Each building element (while being aesthetically derived
by the above) has a practical purpose for the building as a whole. Arches
enabling the transfer of load and allowing height to be achieved Cornices
allowing the throw of rain water away from the façade, cills and entrance
portico, dentals providing enrichment while also a corbelling effect to support
The roof traditionally flat in design
would have been constructed using stone flag slates with a led covering. the
slate giving durable weather protection. After the Great fire of London in 1666
the first building controls on structure and materials began to be implemented.
The use of slate would be the roofing material of choice for years to come as
the realisation of the important of not having flammable and combustible
materials. The led used would have been sand cast in sheets the equivalent of
the current code 6. These sheets would often weigh well in excess of a quarter
of a tonne.
spans would be trussed frames (oak) and flitched beams or saddled trusses with
iron couplings at the joints. Foundations of the time would be simple spread
footings based on very thick walls spreading the load onto the underlying
(London clay) sub-strait
2014 The University of Greenwich Stockwell Street building is set in a
traditional limestone façade. Designed by Heneghan Peng the four-story
architecture is being hailed by many and an architectural master piece.
a steel frame
buildings are now held to strict building regulations focusing on key elements
as approved documents which are prefixed alphabetically.
Ground floor commercial elements are
aluminium curtain walling.
The ‘Stone’ element is a cladding system
panel. This is hung on the building rather than an integral structural element.
The upper windows are a mix of aluminium
frames and structural glass.
The roof system is likely to be a flat
‘inverted’ roof, meaning that the insulation is fitted ABOVE the water proof
performing layers. Usually weighted down with a ballast drainage layer and/or
paving for maintenance and access.
building is still arranged as a series of bars, with deep glazed canyons
between them bringing light into the depths. But it meets the street with a
lifeless limestone skin, openings framed with fins that absorb the different
rhythms of the neighbouring elevations. This is the fallback approach of
countless lesser architects, a planner-friendly tactic that tries to please all
parties. It does a decent job of mending what was a fragmented street front,
but here it feels misjudged – an important public building that has been forced
to fade into the background, as if ashamed of its presence.
once inside, the original intentions have not been so compromised, and the
spectacular new facilities unfold in spaces that somehow manage to incorporate
lofty ceiling heights into what is not a tall building.
majestic steel staircase slices through the full height of the library’s
atrium, a sharp grey tongue that licks each floor, while the serrated northern
elevation provides nooks to sit with a book, as well as fine views across the
city. Ditching the insipid exterior dressing, the interiors have a
rough-and-ready palette of raw concrete and steel, mesh balustrades and exposed
services, the ducts revealed in all their glory so the students can see how things