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Arches Design Challenge

Since 2017, Meanwhile Space and Boano Prismontas (BP) architects have worked in partnership with the GLA, LB Lambeth and Network Rail (now The Arch Company) to deliver a design led strategy that continues the work to unlock underused spaces and provide business incubation opportunities. In order to make more unused arches available for meanwhile use, Meanwhile Space wanted to find a “kit of parts” solution which will cost less, or on par with, £10,000 which is the standard Network Rail cost to do the basic lining of the arch and make it water tight and safe. Network Rail does not include any thermal qualities and capital cannot be reinvested into another arch. This kit of parts allows the capital investment required for a meanwhile use to be reused in many subsequent arches once the initial meanwhile use term had expired or when an earlier break is required.

In Summer 2017,The Arches Design Challenge competition was launched. Following design development with Atkins, the project was awarded to Boano Prismontas who have now completed Phase 1 of their prototyping by building two complete kit of parts in Arch 500 and 510 Ridgeway Road.

The digitally fabricated structural system is comprised of two elements:

1) The boxes. Modular CNC-cut plywood units that are repeated to infill the space as much as possible and stacked on walls to support the beams as well as the external polycarbonate cladding.

2) The beams. Modular CNC-cut plywood pieces joined together to cover a maximum span of 7.2m. They are the support onto which the insulation sheet is clipped on.

Their design was chosen as it is freestanding, provides a secure space internally, creates a warm and dry space, it is demountable and repeatable. The design is flexible enough to change to suit different arch shapes (tall, narrow, double length etc), making it an attractive choice to deal with an array of difficult arches and undercrofts nationwide. The design is also fully demountable, can be compactly stored (20 kit of parts could be stored in a single arch) and be moved to another location should the landlord require the arch back for further redevelopment. Once all the CNC cut timber, polycarbonate facades and insulation are on site, the construction of an arch can be completed in 2 weeks making it quick and cost effective to redeploy.


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