Garden Canopy for the Charles Dickens Museum

Kennedy Woods Architecture, London, 2014


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View under canopy 

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  • View under canopy    
  • Canopy half extended    
  • Canopy fully extended    
  • Canopy and counterweight    
  • Canopy and supports    
  • Tension wires    
  • Canopy detail     
  • Canopy retracting    
  • Canopy at mid point    

A 12m free-spanning retractable awning providing rain cover for museum visitors and café guests

This Heath Robinson-inspired canopy at the Charles Dickens Museum is fully-retractable and waterproof.

The canopy has brought new life to the courtyard café during rainy days and evening events.

The project was driven by a sensitivity to the delicacy of the existing garden, which demanded a challenging construction process that concealed much of the structure below the ground.

The final effect is that of a lightweight floating ceiling that recesses unobtrusively over the flower beds when not in use, with only a decorative fly-wheel, concrete counterweight and guide-wires to hint at this transformative feature.

In order to achieve a high level of durability and finish, and counter the strong winds affecting the flat canopy, the various components of the mechanism were sourced from specialist suppliers in fields as varied as boxing, climbing and marine trades, all installed by our in-house team.


  • Begun: Jul 2014
  • Completed: Aug 2014
  • Floor area: 36m2
  • Total cost: £11
  • Tender date: Jun 2014
  • Address: Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street, London, WC1N 2LX, United Kingdom

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