The character of the new Digital Studio building is also inspired by the materials and technologies which have defined the Dockyard historically. This includes a brickwork ground floor ‘plinth’ which references the dry docks and engineered walls of Brunel’s adjacent Sawmills. Also, the Main Studio’s cladding of patterned, cross-braced Corten steel, is inspired by the dockyard’s metal boat-building era, and the mast and rigging which was manufactured at the dockyards. The patina of the weathered metal cladding will create a warmth and timeless quality, which will harmonise with the varied tone and aged brickwork of the Section House.
While two separate buildings, the two facilities will work together as one, with a lush, planted courtyard and elevated walkway linking the historic Section House and the terraced green roof and landscape of the new studios.
Luke Gilbert, Associate at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios said: “Docking Station at The Historic Dockyard Chatham has the potential to make an enormous catalytic contribution to the cultural regeneration of the area and help position Medway at the centre of the burgeoning digital arts sector. It will offer dynamic spaces and cutting-edge facilities to provide a hub for collaboration between students, start-ups and industry.
Our refurbishment of the former Police Section House will restore the local landmark and open-up the building to the public for the first time, providing amenities for the community and an opportunity to experience immersive performances and world-leading motion capture technology, first-hand. To unite the two buildings and embed the studios within their historic setting, we have proposed a biodiverse terraced roofscape and courtyard with an architectural language which references the dockyard’s industrial heritage.
By using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and recycled materials we are minimising the new building’s environmental footprint, and the use of on-site energy generation and highly efficient building envelopes will help to secure a resilient and sustainable future for the Scheduled Monument and Docking Station as a whole.”
The project is committed to delivering a social and environmentally responsible building that will encourage, stimulate and support creativity across the Medway region. It aspires to be an exemplar of low carbon design approaches, encourage on-site power generation, maximising opportunities for green infrastructure and biodiversity gain, and minimising waste and encouraging reuse / recycling of materials.
The Docking Station is supported by Arts Council England’s Cultural Development Fund (investment from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and Levelling Up Fund (investment from the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities) as well as the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Creative Estuary. Docking Station will deliver a high-quality international creative digital hub for technology, performance, and training, which will contribute significantly to Medway’s commitment to growing the creative industries sector by 2030. It will address the income, productivity and skills levelling-up challenges faced in Medway, make a visible impact on Medway’s cultural regeneration, provide the facilities and skills development opportunities to support digital innovation, create an exciting and attractive offer to prospective students, and, bring world-class digital opportunities to Chatham.
Construction is planned to start in Summer 2024.