Portsmouth’s creative quarter thrives with Kebony renovation
Hotwalls Studios embraces artistic community and maintains exceptional heritage
The Hotwalls Studios provides local artists in Portsmouth with studio space whilst creating an important focal point for the city’s burgeoning creative community and cleverly embracing the unique heritage of this historic site. Kebony, an enhanced wood from Norway, was selected by leading architects ERMC Architects to provide the internal flooring for all thirteen studios, the canteen and exterior decking, complementing the renovation of this previously vacant Victorian fort and maintaining the charm and timeless nature of this site.
Once an integral part of the city’s historic defences against invasion, the Hotwalls Studios has been given a new lease of life, to enhance the city’s creative industries and provide new business opportunities for the local community. The architects brief was to develop multiple artist studios and a brasserie, however the ambitious vision of ERMC and their commitment to complete a sensitive restoration resulted in this stunning project, which far exceeded expectations and has become a building that all of Portsmouth can be proud of.
Each converted casemate now forms a self-contained and versatile workspace ideally suited to artists. Utilising a pragmatic approach to modernisation, the robust form of the studios arches remains a dominant feature, with the existing surfaces and textures serving as both naturalistic decoration and a reminder of the structure’s historic significance. An outdoor terrace as well as an internal flooring solution has been constructed over the existing stone plinth with Kebony wood. This allows visitors and artists alike to relax and take in the spectacular views of the seascape so rarely observed from this location. Kebony was the perfect material for the terrace and internal flooring due to its enhanced durability and hardwearing nature.
Developed in Norway, Kebony’s revolutionary technology is an environmentally friendly process which modifies sustainably sourced softwoods through a patented process using a bio based liquid from agricultural production which is impregnated into the wood. The process permanently transforms the wood cell structure to give Kebony the attributes of tropical hardwood including high durability, hardness and dimensional stability.
Deniz Beck, Chartered Architect at ERMC commented: “We are overwhelmed with the response received for the Hotwalls Studios. This project was certainly not without its challenges and required significant planning in order to maintain the structure’s status as a heritage monument. Kebony was instrumental in achieving our ambition; the material was incredibly robust and good-looking and we are already looking to use Kebony again in another exciting seafront project.”
Adrian Pye, International Sales Director at Kebony added: “It’s wonderful to see how this ambitious project has become such an integral part of the city’s artistic community. We are always very proud when Kebony is used in a project of this nature, and we look forward to working with ERMC again in the future to contribute to another equally special development.”
Images: © Jonty Sexton