Sector: Conservation, Defence, Interiors
Project value: £5,000,000
Project stage: Complete
RAF Northolt is located in the London Borough of Hillingdon and originated as a World War I airfield, retained and rebuilt under General Sir Hugh Trenchard’s Home Defence Expansion scheme which began in 1923. This site has been undergoing intensive redevelopment under project MoDEL with new accommodation built to house a range of military facelifted. Several historical buildings remain including the Officers Mess. Several existing features of significance include a clock tower, entrance porch and fine internal treatment to the Mess’ rooms. The building has continued in the use for which it was originally designed for.
Gibberd’s challenge was to update and enlarge the accommodation without disturbing the buildings character. The building had suffered from outdated accommodation, and the main dining hall was too small for formal dining arrangements due to an increased number of officers at Northolt.
Gibberd’s design incorporated major works such as providing additional residential rooms in two new blocks on an adjacent site, modernization of the officers accommodation with old communal bathrooms replaced by en-suite facilities, a new entrance pavilion to the north range which provides level access to the building for wheelchair users and a new single storey extension at the rear. This new dining hall is sympathetically designed in context with the adjoining structures and local character. Matching materials were used to reflect the original buildings form, the new dining hall includes new stores, staff changing rooms and sanitary areas.
Building conservation is demonstrated by retaining and restoring architectural features such as down stand beams and original cornice lines along with internal original joinery and plasterwork in the Officers Mess.
The external appearance of the building has been enhanced with new windows based on the original casements, as recorded in the photographs of the early 1940s. With the removal of accretions and the reworking of the landscape, working alongside engineers AECOM and contractors VINCI construction Gibberd were able to design a setting which once again reflect the importance of the Officer’s Mess to RAF Northolt.