A working community farm and education charity in London is entering a new chapter of its history thanks to an £860k refurbishment and extension. The project, by PUP Architects, with John Perkins as the main contractor, expands the community outreach and educational facilities at Surrey Docks Farm as well as opening up the riverside with a new public realm and enhanced access to the Thames Path.
A new civic face
Key new spaces in the development include a teaching kitchen, meeting rooms, offices, toilet block, multi-use River Room and glazed “orangery” opening up the building to the expansive river views. A three-storey tower previously gutted by fire has been reinstated to present a new civic face for the farm.
Inspired by the black barns of Sussex and Kent as well as the site’s history as a timber wharf and shipyard, the buildings feature Thermopine® cladding, factory coated in striking ebony. The vertical lines are broken by horizontal bands, with board widths gradually increasing towards the top of the tower. This creates the effect of a textured shadow pattern and signifies the change from agricultural use on the ground floor to civic space towards the top. Existing materials such as brick and granite have been reused alongside timber, reflecting the charity’s strong values relating to responsible farming and sustainability. The result is a striking landmark celebrating the best of agriculture in an urban setting.