Walthamstow Wetlands is the capital’s newest and largest urban wetland nature reserve and encompasses 10 large reservoirs, which deliver water to 3.5 million Thames Water customers and increases public access to nature in an area of London deficient in open space. As part of the scheme Architects Witherford Watson Mann designed a visitor centre within a decommissioned Victorian pumping station, to house a café and shop plus exhibition, learning and events spaces. Since the buildings and landscape were already distinctive, they were treated with a light touch. What capacity they had has been adapted for economical and flexible operation, helping to build the long term sustainability of this significant new community resource for East London. The sturdy brick pumphouse was gently repaired, with new steel gantries threaded through, to connect the rooms and offer views over this landscape of water, woods and marshland.
When it came to the washrooms they wanted to continue with the use of raw steel and an online search brought them to Devizes based Relcross and an earlier project of theirs featuring Hadrian steel toilet cubicles at the Oaks Restaurant in Nottingham. While available to match almost any RAL colour, Hadrian Steel cubicles can be supplied in a plain galvanneal finish for a natural, industrial look. At Walthamstow they have been combined with Staffordshire blue quarry tiles to the floor and Staffordshire red quarry tiles to the walls for an overall effect that evokes the functional industrial design of the original engine house but with immense practicality for public washrooms at a very popular new facility.
The doors and walls of the cubicles are steel faced with a honeycomb core for amazing strength but lightness – so there’s no institutional sounding ‘clang’ when the doors are closed. The lightness means they require no special structural provisions to effect a rigid installation on any type of floor. Importantly, they are easy to clean and maintain and are very dent resistant. All corners of the cubicles are mitred, welded and ground for superior strength. Privacy is ensured by the use of continuous stop and hinge sight line fillers together with a minimal 150mm gap from the floor to the underside of the door and panels.
Due to their steel construction, Hadrian toilet partitions are fire-resistant and will not give off toxic smoke if exposed to heat or flame. On top of all that they also have excellent green credentials as Hadrian’s products feature a high recycled content.
One of the four cubicles in the Ladies is enlarged and features an outward opening door to allow room for the provision of baby changing facilities. One of the two cubicles in the Gents is similarly equipped.