Porthmeor Renovation

The renovation need
Scaffolding and temporary roof
Building fabric
Access - stairs, walkways and lift
New studios

Porthmeor is arranged on four levels and occupies a footprint of approximately 40m x 25m around a central courtyard. The structure is a combination of masonry and timber studwork, and all upper floors are wooden. The roof is the traditional wet laid slate characteristic of West Cornwall, and is a complex structure of steep pitches with many gullies. The larger studios have patent glazed skylights and large wooden windows, and most are north-facing, overlooking Porthmeor beach.

Prior to its recent renovation, decades of exposure to Atlantic gales had greatly weakened the building fabric. The slate roof and valley gutters had started to fail and let in substantial amounts of rainwater, and two of the large windows overlooking the beach had been destroyed by storms. The building was in such a poor condition that it was placed on the English Heritage ‘Buildings At Risk Register’.

The Trust started its fundraising efforts in 2002, but despite significant early support from Arts Council England, it took a further eight years to raise the full £4 million required to allow the project to go ahead. Building work eventually started in 2010, and was completed in 2012.

The works involved the repair and strengthening of the building, improving access and acoustic and thermal insulation, replacing key services, and carefully remodelling the building to provide additional studios. The building now provides high quality and essential workspace for fishermen in four cellars, for artists in fifteen studios, and with two studios each for the St Ives School of Painting and the Borlase Smart John Wells Trust.

Porthmeor Studios through the eyes of the architect (Video)

The Architect’s Story (pdf)

The Architects Report 2009 (pdf)

Graham Gaunt’s beautiful photos of the renovation

Porthmeor Studios Building Case Study for BREEAM (pdf )

The quality of restoration has led to the project winning several awards, including:

  • RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects): National Award 2014, Regional Award 2014 and Winner, Regional Conservation Award 2014
  • RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors): National Building Conservation Award 2014; SW Project of the Year 2014; SW Building Conservation Award 2014; Shortlisted for Community Benefit and Regeneration categories 2014
  • Civic Trust 2014: Community Recognition Award
  • Cornish Buildings Group 2013: Award Winner
  • English Heritage Angels Awards 2013: Shortlisted
  • National Lottery Awards 2013: Finalist
  • Considerate Contractors National Site Award 2013: Silver
  • Certified BREEAM ‘Very Good’

The Trust is indebted to the architects for the sympathetic nature of the restoration and for their attention to detail, to the contractor for the exceptionally high standard of workmanship, and to the project manager for keeping the renovations within budget and on time.

Long & Kentish Architects
King Shaw (Building Services)
KRA Associates (Structural Engineer)

Trevor Humphreys Associates

Symons Construction
Delve & Nankervis (electrical services)
Jose & Blackler (mechanical services)

Arts Council England
Sea Change
Heritage Lottery Fund
English Heritage
European Fisheries Fund
Cornwall Council
Smart Regeneration (local fundraising appeal)