WebbConsult | The Tea Room

The Tea Room


“This unique project involved the addition of a new tea room to an existing 1960’s factory building. This initial brief sounded reasonably mundane and arrival at the very plain factory in the back streets of Brunswick gave no clue what we were in for. Once inside the factory my interest level rose with classic bikes and vintage cars in various forms of disassembly being scattered around work benches. Then I met the client, Ric Begg, and I realised that we were in for a real treat ” – Michael Webb

An expressed steel support structure was adopted to compliment the industrial nature of the building, as well as to provide the most cost effective and buildable solution.  The tea room floor consists of a composite metal deck slab supported on composite steel beams.  Composite action between the steel and concrete allowed optimisation of the steelwork, minimising the economic and ecological impact of the construction.  The concrete slab was selected for its thermal mass and to allow the installation of slab resistance heating, powered by PV panels.

The floor beams are supported by prefabricated wall trusses that cantilever out of the original factory.  To minimise the impact of the new construction on the old brick walls a ‘V’ column was added externally to provide independent support.  Steel rod ‘stays’ were added to provide lateral stability to the new construction.

Whilst the tearoom’s cantilever towards the street is an immediately striking feature, what is not so obvious is that the tearoom has a much larger cantilever at the back.  This was required to keep the existing workshop column free.  Also one edge of the tearoom is located over the driveway entrance, so again supports were set back requiring more cantilevers. In fact, the footprint of the tearoom structure at ground level is well under one third of the area of the tearoom itself.  This structural gymnastics was economically achieved with a clever design utilising the high strength to weight ratio of steel.

This prefabricated steelwork was lifted and bolted together on site with great efficiency and minimal fuss.  It allowed the construction to proceed quickly and safely without the need for scaffolding. The tearoom was clad in insulated sandwich panels, which surpassed all insulation requirements. Thermal bridging was avoided by bringing the steel frame inside, where it became a celebrated element of the crisp modern industrial architecture.  The wall panels were inclined to suit the wall truss geometry and provide great visual dynamics.