Beyond 2012 - an integrated Design Story

Old Ford Water Treatment Plant
A built environment story

“The building is more than just a utilitarian shed; built with robust materials it will age well with minimum maintenance.”

Chris Bills

Tell us about the early design brief

The early brief was to design a building and related structures to house the engineering plant that would treat sewage from the Northern Outfall Sewer and re-cycle it into ‘greywater’. This in turn would irrigate the Eaton Dorney Hockey Pitch and some planting areas and provide WC flush water for the Olympic Village. Due to the sensitivity of the site, the building had to be visually discreet and use sustainable materials as much as possible.

What inspired your design concept?

We envisaged a simple building form that would occupy a discreet area on the overall site and relate to the already existing Old Ford Pump Station. Low-maintenance natural materials would be needed in the design to meet the brief requirements for sustainability.

In the gabion baskets we used a Somerset Limestone rather than re-claimed concrete – simply because the planning officer liked Somerset Limestone!

What challenges did you face along the way?

Reconciling Thames Water’s operational requirements with our architectural aspirations and dealing with the different aspirations of two client groups were challenges for us on the project. Our design thinking responded in a simple building form that lent itself to a simple and quick construction method and which responded to tight timescales and budget.

What would you highlight as the lasting benefits of your design work?

The building is more than just a utilitarian shed; built with robust materials it will age well with minimum maintenance. The project also led to further research and development on water sustainability for Thames Water.


Company name
Lyall, Bills and Young Architects

Old Ford Water Treatment Plant


Project team

Chris Bills

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