The whole of Crown Wharf is a large steel frame. This method of building is needed to allow for the breadth of the beer hall, 15 metres wide. It is also needed for the theatre, which I will come to another week, but this too needs to be a large open space.
Once complete much of the steel will be hidden, enclosed. In the beer hall, it will be all be exposed. Unusually the ceiling will be supported by steel rather than timber joists forming an industrial look which should reflect a canal-side ‘light industrial’ warehouse texture, but crafted in a new way, traditional and also functional, it is really important to us that all the steel serves a purpose, we felt it was important that every piece does something, it is real. The vaulted steel roof is unique – at least as far as we know.
The tension of time, old and new, past and present colliding is the essence of the whole design, an eclectic mixture of Joule’s references, the historical material on display next to modern materials and construction but crafted together in a traditional way with traditional materials should create a contemporary outcome. We hope it will be thought-provoking, for those who choose to look below the surface and also entertaining – it will be old, romantic, nostalgic and at the same time brand new and fresh.
Reclaimed buildings cheek by Jowl with new buildings, the striking dynamic lines of the theatre abuts Wharfingers Cottage, fully restored, and the whole accessed via the gateway building of the Old Fire Station.
There is, of course, an obvious risk in this approach, it could be a total car crash, it will only work if everything sits well together, the whole thing, from the core construction to every final last detail of the fit out, this is the complete holistic design opportunity we have.
The steel frame is the central heart of the building, it is the building. Designed and fitted by Minshalls Construction based in Market Drayton. Minshalls constructed the Brewery ten years ago, and apart from being a great friend to the Brewery, they are fantastically positive, flexible and straightforward to deal with. One of the hallmarks of our pub work is to allow our tradesmen latitude, we work as a group and we allow our restorations to evolve so we respond to the building, we don’t force anything and everyone has creative involvement – no one does ‘just a job’. In this project, this collaborative approach with our partners follows that tradition, the beer hall itself will be a product of that – I am pretty sure it will be striking.