boano prišmontas fills london's abandoned spaces with wooden modular system

boano prišmontas fills london's abandoned spaces with wooden modular system

london-based architecture firm boano prišmontas designed a digitally fabricated structural system that infills abandoned spaces such as railway arches, undercrofts and multi storey car parks. the wooden system adopts dry-joint techniques that is meant to become a kit of parts that can be easily assembled and eventually redeployed. the project is characterized by its nomadic, temporary and sustainable approach. the architects seek to work in synergy with developers and councils for short and mid term urban regeneration strategies, to support the quick creation of affordable workspaces for local businesses and startups.




boano prišmontas’ structure is designed to challenge the standard way in which the network rail (now the arch company) fits-out the rented arches. with a cost of roughly £10k they only provide a set of neon lights and a corrugated plastic lining, which doesn’t improve the thermal quality of the space. since only the certified installers are allowed to directly fix the lining onto the listed brick vaults, boano prišmontas worked around this constraint to design a freestanding self-buildable plug-in space, a room-within-a-room that is built by expanding its shape as much as possible to infill the vault of an arch. 




the digitally fabricated structural system is comprised of two elements, the boxes and the beams. the boxes are modular cnc-cut plywood units that are repeated to infill the space as much as possible and stacked on walls to support the beams as well as the external polycarbonate cladding. on the other hand, the beams are modular cnc-cut plywood pieces joined together that cover a maximum span of 7.2m. 




the beams provide the support onto which the insulation sheet is clipped on. the boxes are sized to host the polycarbonate facade, which allows to fill the internal space with natural light. the polycarbonate panels also spill light on the street showing a glimpse of the activity taking place inside the space. 




the arches project can come with various interior finishes and include different features. these cover bespoke cnc-machined doors, furniture pieces and a peg wall. the construction cost for the arches system is more economic than building entirely from scratch. additionally, the arches can be completed in a very short time, making the project an attractive choice for dealing with an array of spaces. the structure is entirely made of certified birch plywood sheets. 



all the pieces of the systematic ‘puzzle’ are the result of a careful study and prototyping phase. during this research, the designers assessed the best ratio between element size, weight, structural integrity and ease of construction. each structural piece is also geometrically efficient when cut with a cnc machine, minimising material waste. 




each component, from the plywood structure to the facade cladding and insulation sheet, is meant to be re-deployed when dismantled. the joint system allows the structure to be assembled without the use of screws, nails or glue. each piece simply slots together and the assembling/dismantling process can be carried out by anyone. the act of construction itself becomes a way to involve local communities, charitable associations and youth clubs, making the project a catalyst for positive social impact. 



the railway arches are a unique urban asset as they host all sorts of retail activities and productive spaces such as studios, laboratories, workshops, mechanics, shops, micro breweries, and coworking spaces to name just a few. boano prišmontas claims the ‘railway arches are the backbone of the productive london.’ the arches project aims to preserve and promote the diversity of uses by quickly creating a spacious, warm and dry space that delivers affordable workspace for local businesses.



project info:


project name: the arches project

design: boano prismontas

location: london, UK

credits: chhavi bansal, jean jacques bell, andrew choptiany, stefano casati, matteo ferrari, caroline gill, jason lam, wilson lam, priya mathew, alison minto, as well as charles, mary, alfredo, john, dusty, ian and all local businesses of ridgway road.

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