SS Robin

The SS Robin is the oldest surviving tramp steamer in the world. It marks the end of the era of sail and the stage of the age of steam – built in 1890, just 20 years after the Cutty Sark, she represents technological excellence as well as being a symbol of the hard work, often in dangerous conditions, undertaken by the merchant navy.

erect architecture were shortlisted for a proposal to transform the ship and the large floating pontoon into a museum, café and events venue. As both the ship and the pontoon are effectively giant tin cans, they heat up in the summer and get very cold in the winter, whilst acoustic performance is very poor. The interior spaces could simply be lined with insulation and plasterboard, but this would deny the character of the internal spaces. 
Instead, we propose re-inserting cargo into the hold: the shipping containers and boxes provide smaller serviced spaces within the holds – visitors routes around the Robin takes in both services and unserviced spaces, ensuring the original iron fins and rivets are part of the display. A stack of light filled crates on the pontoon holds the stairs and lift, giving access to the deck level and advertising the space to viewers.
Location: Royal Victory Dock, London
Client: SS Robin
Cost: £1M
Status: Shortlisted