The concept is based on land movement, and sets out to achieve an exciting, active and educational centre for the archaeology and reconstruction of historic boats. Opposite the Naval College at Greenwich, on the north bank of the Thames, it forms a stone amphitheatre to the water edge, thus allowing the River Thames to become the stage, the Naval College architecture of Christopher Wren and Inigo Jones to be the stage set, and the Royal Greenwich Observatory to be the fly tower.
The result is a discreet, but powerful, architectural statement which expands the territory of Island Gardens as a park and visitor attraction.
The non-air conditioned internal space is naturally lit through the flush glass in the grass roof and through diffused light entering via the risers of the amphitheatre steps. The latter also offers a permanent panorama of the Thames and architecture opposite from inside the building. The ‘clinker’ language of stepped construction is taken through from concept to detail. The exhibition and reconstruction area is separated from the conference and commercial zone by the entrance which is on an axis with the Queen’s House at Greenwich. The visitor enters at the garden level into the mid-space of the building and is offered the opportunity of a short or a long route visit while always remaining at the same level. Thus the design treats those who are physically disadvantaged as normal visitors and all can enjoy the 3D shapes of boats around them and witness the reconstruction and launching of boats from within and outside the building. The project was cancelled in 1985.