The Old Lifeboat Station
Project: Restoring an old Lifeboat Station into a domestic home
Location: Tenby, South Wales
Date: Work started beginning 2010, completed end of 2011
Architect: Argent Architects, Michael Argent
Main Contractor: Horan Construction
Structural Engineer: Capricorn 19 Construction Services
Owner(s): Tim and Philomena O’Donovon
In 2005 the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station in Tenby, South Wales was left empty after its replacement station became operational. Communities such as those in Tenby see buildings like these as a representation of the honour of their heritage and refuse to let them be demolished. Due to the constant attack from the sea the cost of maintaining the empty lifeboat station was high and put a financial strain on its owner, the RNLI. In 2003 Tim O’Donovan, alongside architect Michael Argents put in a bid with a new proposal for the old station to be restored into a residential home. This was to give it a new lease of life as well as taking the £15,000 annual maintenance cost off the RNLI, reducing their finacial strain. Permission was granted at the beginning of 2010 from the local authorities, allowing work to commence on renovating the building. The work was completed at the end of 2011 after 18 months of work.
As a Grade II listed building, the Edwardian facade had to be restored using like for like materials to keep in with the conservation. The white iron cladding and red steel framework is a piece of history kept within the landscape of Tenby coastline. In contrast to the exterior they were able to be a lot more experimental with the interior. Inserting a steel frame within the structure enabled the architect to divide up the space across two floors. The first floor “…offering a clean sweep down to the water” (Luke Tebbutt, Grand Designs Magazine, January 2012, pg 51) with the end product being spacious and keeping in with the memory of its previous function.
The transformation of the interior from its past use as a lifeboat station to a domestic space is an enormous difference. What is fascinating about the project is the exterior appears as it was when first built; yet the entire interior has a new purpose. Interior architecture is working with the existing and finding a way of evolving and moving on from the past to create a space that can be appreciated once more. The renovation of the old Tenby lifeboat station does this justice, it may not be what everyone wanted but it has an allowed an important piece of the town to remain intact, yet added to the history of the site.
Research and background information from BBC news article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_west/8209410.stm (viewed on 7th October 2012)
Research and background information on restoring old buildings from the Financial Times: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/b53ec51e-e796-11df-8ade-00144feab49a.html#axzz14gIvqqj9 (viewed on 7th October 2012)
Documentary from Channel 4, Grand Designs, Series 7, Episode 30: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/grand-designs/4od#3264905 (viewed on 7th October 2012)
Architects Website, Argent Architects: http://www.argent-architects.co.uk/pages/Conversions%20tenby%20lifeboat%20station.html (viewed on 7th October 2012)
Original and process photos from Winters Electrical Services: http://www.winterselectrical.co.uk/files/newsattachments/58.pdf (viewed on 7th October 2012)
Image of Old Lifeboat Station before redevelopment: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ben_salter/2783697819/in/photostream/(viewed on 7th October 2012)
Images and Research from Grand Designs Magazine: Grand Designs, Edition January 2012 (pages 46-52)