Competition entry, in conjunction with Tom Black Architects, to design a new club-house for Ullswater Yacht Club as a replacement for the flood-damaged facilities.


Due to the floods of November 2009, the level of Ullswater rose by 2.75m (the average annual rise is between 0.15 & 0.3m), causing extensive flood damage to the Clubhouse which is sited 14m back from the water’s edge, but only 0.6m above lake level. Emergency repairs were carried out but it was decided that a new clubhouse was needed to provide improved facilities in the long term. Fund-raising began and a number of design objectives were established for the project which included: minimising disruption to the continuity of the operations at the Club, reduce potential consequences of future flooding, sit comfortably in the natural environment, provide a welcoming and functional space for ‘wet sailors’, spectators and visitors and allow clear views of the lake for race officials.


The design approach was to first and foremost address the issues we saw as most important – the resistance to flooding, the sensitivity of the setting and the logistics of building while the existing clubhouse is in use. This led us to a floating solution – a simple modular building on a buoyant base, which can be delivered in sections and assembled in the water, either in-situ or remotely. This means that the problems of a conventional build are avoided, the existing clubhouse can remain in use, and it could be built at any time of the year. Because the building floats, it will rise with any flood waters, perfectly protecting the building. Visually, the approach is to use vertical timber cladding of irregular widths, and lengths, evocative of the surrounding trees and boat masts amongst which it sits. As the timber weathers over time, to a more neutral tone, the building will blend into its environment. The organisation of the building is simple, keeping competitors on the lower level, with spectators and the general public at the higher level. A viewing gallery is also positioned at high level and, with the Clubhouse position on the lake, offers perfect views for race officials.


The Architectural Competition for the new Ullswater Yacht club attracted ver 100 entries from practices around the world, and while this scheme did not make the final shortlist of 3, the feedback was positive, especially the innovative approach to dealing with the flood risk, and the way in which the scheme provided the required capacity for members while also maximising the waterfront outlook. The overall approach to the coherence of the plan was commended, as was the approach to sustainability, in particular, how the environmental impact of the building, both during construction and use, had been minimised given the sensitive nature of the site.