The Works

  • Project Type: Commercial
  • Client: Private
  • Status: Planning
  • Location: Maidstone

A conversion of an Historical Grade II listed pump house into an three storey office building, including a modern yet sympathetic roof extension.

The Works building in East Farleigh was built in 1860 by James Pilbrow. It was originally a water works pump house building, built in an Egyptian style. The building has been altered many times over the decades and originally had a very tall obelisk chimney stack (now removed). The building has battered clasping buttresses on the corners with intermediate buttresses and large cornice that enhance the Egyptian feel.

Style & History

19th Century architecture was self-consciously historicist with revivals of many different styles reflecting many different types of public buildings. Often the styles represented the use of the building. There are many examples of Gothic, Greek and Classical revivals across the country, but Egyptian style revivalist architecture is more unusual. Often these buildings are extremely eccentric with notable 19th century examples being the Clifton suspension bridge (Bristol), the Egyptian halls (Glasgow) and the masonic Lodge (Canterbury), as well as many pyramids, obelisks and tombs in graveyards across the country.


The loss of the huge stack makes the building look somewhat truncated. Our approach is to build upon the aesthetic of an Egyptian Pylon – or entrance. This is referenced in the original building through the use of the two central buttresses which naturally divides the building into two sections. Pylon is a Greek word for the central entrance to an Egyptian temple which consists of two tapering towers framing the opening.

Designed with Intent

The new extension references this through an upwards extension with a centrally located light slot which mirrors the two brick sections of the original building. The tapered form references Pylons such as those at Karnac and Luxor and continues the
85 degree angle of the clasped buttresses of the 19th century original.

The extension sits behind the cornice of the original building as if it extrudes up from the original. The heavy rendered cornice is the dividing point between the old and the new. The extension will be a light weight framed structure, in contrast to the heavy masonry of original building. The form will be predominantly glazed to the North East and South West while retaining the monolithic faces to the North West and South East.

Historical Approach

The extension replaces the lost stack by adding additional mass to the top of the building.
We are proposing a metal clad extension that references the 19th century industrial use of the building. The original building housed a huge coal powered water pump. Historic photographs show that the current state of the building is quite different from that originally built with additional structures built onto the building which were, one assumes, for storing fuel.

Modern Design

The fenestration has been significantly altered since the early 1970s with the addition of glazing at ground and first floors, and of course the massive chimney has been removed.

Our proposal is a 21st century addition referencing the 19th original use, which in turn references an historic style of over 3,000 years ago from another continent. The building was built as a temple to industry, and it is apt that the owner will be using it to design, engineer and manufacture an industry for our time – 21st century digital Hi-Fi technology.

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