A manufacturing and technology center for the UK luxury watchmakers Bremont
“The Wing” is a new complex located south of Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, dedicated to the scaled-up production of high-quality chronometers. The complex which was designed by architects, Spratley & Partners encompasses administration, watchmaking and repair and it is inspired by Bremont’s principles of aviation, engineering, and adventure. The project’s most striking feature is the curved east-facing elevation, designed with nine sets of external V-columns and large structural glazing panels assembled with almost invisible silicone joints, to create the illusion of a sheer wall of glass. There are two linked buildings totaling 35,000 square feet. The curved portion of the plan is the main building which contain a two-storey reception area and a boutique. This is connected to a rectangular area for the creative craft of watchmaking. The watchmaking building is a more practical building. Its requirements were that it meet environmental standards, eliminate vibration, restrict sunlight ingress, and safeguard against dust infiltration. The project has achieved a BREEAM “Very Good” accreditation and a high EPC B rating.
Stephen Smith, Director, Spratley & Partners
“The building is low-slung, responding to the open site. We wanted the aerofoil form to look as though it was tethered down to stop it being lifted by the wind.”
The client requested maximum visibility across all vital interior spaces in order to engage patrons and visitors in the watchmaking process. The administrative spaces and machine shop are housed in the main building. This open space required only three columns supporting the mezzanine which is suspended from the structural members of the roof. A walkway bridge connects the mezzanine to the first floor of the watchmaking area. The minimal structural supports generate a sense of etherealness.
The structure rests gently within the landscape. The height of the underside of the roof deck is a meager 6.89 m [22 feet 7 inches]. There is a swale to gather runoff water in front of the front façade. A berm is located to the north of the center to obstruct views. Lovely landscaping with mixed species and trees will encourage biodiversity. A new pedestrian trail adjoins the site to a bus stop, existing infrastructure, and a bicycle shelter with showers and lockers for employees.
Veronica Sanchez, Associate, Spratley & Partners
“The landscape was key in bringing the scheme together to make the building part of the rural setting. The gentle arch of the main building’s roofline dovetails with Andy Sturgeon’s subtle landscaping of the site.”
Location: Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
Client: Bolney Court Inc.
Architect: Spratley & Partners
Engineer: Centrespace Design
Landscape: Andy Sturgeon Garden Designa
Contractor: A&H Construction
Photos by: © Jim Stephenson © Will Scott, courtesy of Spratley & Partners