John Lewis Heritage Centre Recognised at National Building Awards

The Conamar-built John Lewis Partnership Heritage Centre, in Cookham, Berkshire, has won the award for best small commercial building at the LABC Building Excellence Awards Grand Final this week.

Completed during John Lewis’s 150th anniversary year, the centre brings together its business and textile archives for the first time, including a pattern-viewing gallery for designs dating back to the 1790s and including work by artists from William Morris to Lucienne Day.

Working closely with FSP Architects, Conamar constructed the new archive and completed a full refurbishment of the existing pottery building that was used to make items for John Lewis during the Second World War and is now used as exhibition space for its permanent collection.

A panel of industry experts judged a list of the highest quality projects from around England and Wales to reward the best in technical innovation, sustainability and design. The award was granted because the project delivered a combined archive, arts and crafts facility, together with exhibition space, set within a challenging island location. The sympathetic refurbishment of the existing derelict buildings dating back several hundred years and the construction of two high tech extensions complement each other and the surrounding context.

LABC Chief Executive Paul Everall said: “This award highlights the determination of all parties to complete this project to the highest standards without compromising on safety. Located within a flood zone, innovative solutions included building the archive box on stilts and raising internal floor levels above the safe flood level. The concrete frame, that provides high thermal mass helps to maintain strict temperature control and humidity conditions and a passivent system allows the space to be naturally ventilated, making this national asset accessible to a much a wider audience.”

Neil Dower, Managing Director of Conamar, said: “Although we’re usually involved in plans for John Lewis’s major stores or its head office, this was a great project to be part of during its 150th anniversary year. The aim was to showcase the company’s heritage and longstanding commitment to outstanding British design so we’re very pleased that these awards have recognised both the importance of the centre and the way it has been successfully delivered.”

Hosted by writer, architect and television presenter, George Clarke, the awards raised over £6000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.