Windermere Jetty Museum / Carmody Groarke
Carmody Groarke’s Windermere Jetty Museum, located between the villages of Bowness and Windermere in the Lake District National Park, rehabilitates an historic gravel-extraction plant to create an elegantly austere assembly of volumes on the lake’s edge. The resultant stark and brooding forms, resonate both with the poetic sublimity of the landscape as well as the unique and quaint industrial heritage of the popular holiday destination.
The recently finished design for Windermere Jetty: Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories, by London-based architecture practice, Carmody Groarke, is situated amidst the fairy tale landscape of Windermere, on the banks of England’s largest lake. The area is renowned for its Victorian-era holidaymakers, and its association with the Romanticism of John Ruskin and William Wordsworth, and, of course, Beatrix Potter. Given the rich and poetic history and topography of the area, Carmody Groarke’s quiet and unassuming architectural intervention appears perfectly calibrated and poised. It is very clearly an architecture of its place, without reverting to the dry-stone and slate synonymous with the Lake District.
The program for Carmody Groarke’s Windermere Jetty Museum includes exhibition spaces, a boatyard, conservation workshop, education areas and a café. It is home to a vast collection of boats, including steamships, motorboats, and even Beatrix Potter’s rustic row boat. These facilities are situated within square-planned, pitched-roof, barn-like volumes. They intersect and adjoin at times, and some are replete with impossibly-large eaves, inspired by Charles Voysey’s arts and crafts home, Broad Leys, now the headquarters of the Windermere Motor Boat Racing Club. These provide sheltered outdoor areas, a necessity given the annual precipitation in the region. Clad homogenously in black-oxidised, pleated copper, the façade is already showing subtle signs of the verdigris patina that will surely come to engulf the building overtime.
Kevin Carmody and Andy Groarke founded their eponymously-named practice in 2006, emerging from the renowned David Chipperfield studio. The Windermere Jetty Museum represents a further step into the realm of public architecture for the practice, and with a gestation period of almost ten-years, built at a cost of £20 million pounds— in-part funded by the Lakeland Arts charity (responsible for running the museum) and the Heritage Lottery Fund—it is evidence of the practice’s vision, stamina and maturity.
Regarding the concepts behind the design for the Windermere Jetty Museum, Andy Groarke has explained the practice “wanted to create a museum whose design would make a connection between people, boats and water, and which would also reinterpret the site’s industrial and picturesque heritage.” Carmody Groarke’s “ambition is that the new museum will frame vivid experiences of the unique collection, the beautiful ecology and the natural landscape of its setting.”
With the Windermere Jetty Museum, Carmody Groarke have deconstructed Lake District vernacular architectural typologies to arrive at a deftly utilitarian, yet materially-rich series of quiet buildings, showcasing both the boating history of Windermere and the majesty of the lakes and their attendant mountains. This is a new kind of poetry for the Lake District, one of parsimony, modesty and place.