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Somerset House Competition Win

We are delighted to announce that Niall McLaughlin Architects has been appointed to design a new, multi-purpose auditorium and public space. This follows an international competition (organised by Colander Associates) which had a total of 69 entries from an impressive calibre of architectural teams. Eight teams were shortlisted which included Adjaye Associates, Barozzi/Veiga with DRDH, David Chipperfield Architects, Flores Prats with AOC Architects, Haworth Tompkins with Citizen’s Design Bureau, Snohetta with Orms, Studio Seilern, and Niall McLaughlin Architects. The jury, comprising Jonathan Reekie (Director, Somerset House Trust), Julia Barfield (Architect), Martine d’Anglejan Chatillon (Trustee and arts producer), Brian Eno (Trustee and artist/musician), Sarah Gaventa (Director of Illuminated River), Paul Goswell (Trustee and MD of Delancey) and Paul Purgas (Artist and Somerset House Studios resident), was unanimous that Niall McLaughlin Architects’ presentation gave a strong sense of design direction and clarity of thought, with an unmatched commitment to sustainability and a distinctly creative and collaborative approach. The jury felt confident that in our hands, the team would deliver Somerset House’s vision of creating a world-class performance space to make and showcase new, cutting-edge multi-disciplinary work to new, younger and more diverse audiences.



Balliol College, Sports Pavilion

7:45 AM, London Bridge. The train from Uckfield just entered the station and is spitting out hundreds of commuters, flowing past us. We hop on the now empty train and leave London to visit our timber sub-contractor’s workshop in East Sussex.

We are fast approaching the construction stage of our Sports Pavilion project for Balliol College in Oxford and were invited to review a mock-up of the roof structure. The pavilion roof is formed of slender sweet chestnut glulam joists; 10 layers are stacked on top of each other, each layer cantilevering further into the space, creating a coffer.

1:50 model

From outside the roof structure expresses itself as a lantern, popping up in the centre of the building. The lantern is fully glazed, allowing for rays of sunshine to enter through the stacked glulam. In the evening, the dense timber lattice will be highlighted by a subtle glow, originating from LED strips, that are recessed in the top of the glulam joists.

The mock-up in Inwood’s (timber sub-contractor) workshop

Lighting strategy detail plan and section

The mock-up was used to test the connection details between the individual layers of glulam, the construction sequence, and the integration of the LED strips and the associated wiring. Preceding the assembly of this mock-up, these details have been worked through and coordinated in many lengthy design workshops, involving the contractor, structural and electrical engineers, the timber sub-contractor, electricians and us architects. As such, it was even more enjoyable to review the mock-up with all the parties involved and to see our combined efforts bearing fruit.

The carpenters who built the mock-up and the Electrical Engineer, Design Manager, and Architect discussing the installation and accessibility of the LED strips