Queensway House

A new head office for Mary Ward Centre to provide workspace for their Legal Centre, a new multi-functioning performing arts theatre, café, flexible teaching areas, and community spaces.


London, UK


Mary Ward Centre






Structural works completed




Richard Chivers
SD Engineers

SD Team

Mike Davies Alison Wallis

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Mary Ward Centre is an adult education charity and they required larger premises due to their expanding service offering. They secured a loan agreement for the refurbishment and extension of Queensway House in Stratford – a derelict 1970s concrete framed office building approximately 60% too small to cater for Mary Ward’s needs.

A prior engineering study deemed a full refurbishment of the property wasn’t feasible and that a demolition and new build approach was required – this was devastating news for Mary Ward and their loan conditions. Given our reputation for vertical extensions to complex buildings, SD was approached for another opinion and subsequently appointed for full structural and civil design services.

Ph: © Daniel Shearing

Our expertise and understanding of the assessment of historic structures added significant value to the project. For example, while a load increase on the foundations over 10% would typically require strengthening, we worked closely with the geotechnical engineers who calculated the proposed load increases of up to 45% for the additional two storeys would perform adequately, unchanged.

Steel and concrete samples of the frame were used to confirm the existing strength of the structure and when combined with detailed analysis found only 38% of the columns required strengthening. This solution offered significant savings in cost and programme.

Ph: © Daniel Shearing

We undertook a detailed carbon assessment for the structural works and calculated our design had a 40% reduction in embodied carbon when compared to a demolition and new build approach.

Ph: © Richard Chivers

A new braced, piled lift core and steel cross bracing at either end of the building enhance the stability to account for the increased wind load from the taller structure.

Ph: © Richard Chivers

At the very top of the building is a dance studio and so SD recommended the early appointment of an Acoustic Specialist. We collaborated closely to design an isolated space to avoid any vibration issues.

We undertook a detailed review of the existing drainage system on site to ascertain its viability for reuse to avoid additional costs and minimise waste associated with relaying connections. Our SuDS and planning compliant scheme uses an attenuation tank in combination with a flow control device and permeable paving to the rear of the building to reduce flow rates for the 1 in 100 year storm event including climate change. Our hard landscaping design includes porous surfacing and the reinstatement of the existing asphalt.

Ph: © Daniel Shearing

Ph: © Richard Chivers

Ph: © Daniel Shearing