Somerset House Building Refurbishment, Historic London Architecture, Architect, Move, News

Somerset House London

The Strand Architecture Information, WC2, England – design by William Chambers, architect

10 June 2021
The Courtauld Modernisation Project
The Courtauld Institute of Art London Renewal
photo © Benedict Johnson photography
The Courtauld Modernisation Project

Somerset House Building

New photo from 12 Nov 2012:

Somerset House
photo © Adrian Welch

Address: Strand, London WC2R 1LA, England, UK

3 Mar 2012

Somerset House East Wing

Location: central London

Design: BDP

King’s College London – Somerset House East Wing opens

The refurbishment of the East Wing of Somerset House in London had a royal opening by HM The Queen and the HRH The Duke of Edinburgh on 29 February 2012, fulfilling a 180 year long ambition of the College to acquire the building, and gives it a significant front door to the Strand Campus.

This Grade I listed building has been called one of the great architectural treasures of the UK and Europe. It has spacious original interiors and a number of magnificent stone staircases that were in critical need of refurbishment. BDP’s conservation architects were appointed to carry out this work.

King’s College London – Somerset House East Wing:
Somerset House East Wing Somerset House East Wing London Somerset House London
images from architects

Tim Leach, architect director and head of BDP’s heritage and culture team said” Multiple alterations and extensions had been implemented since its original completion and had resulted in a building that lacked clarity. The primary intervention has been the significant reordering, for clarity of access by re-establishing primary visual axes, and inserting new lifts to improve vertical connections. Missing elements of the cantilevered staircase have been rebuilt using traditional techniques while the framework for future links has been created in order to connect the front door through the East Wing and into the campus at several Strand levels.”

BDP faced significant challenges to bring the building up to current environmental and technical standards. Furthermore the building has now been designed to achieve BREEAM Excellent, a major achievement within the constraints of the Grade I listing. Modifications have been made to accommodate the demanding servicing requirements, using the existing fabric to achieve a mixed mode ventilation system which responds to the technical requirements but works with the limitations of the building.”

The new accommodation in the building is on six floors – the ground floor is primarily exhibition space for Somerset House but also provides a link between the courtyard of Somerset House and the King’s College London campus and is a space for public engagement with cultural and artistic uses plus a café. The first floor has conference space and seminar rooms filled with state-of-the-art technical equipment and will host conferences and symposia, raising the College’s profile with an international audience.

Floors three and four, and part of the lower ground floor, will have the brand new facilities for the School of Law which moves from inadequate premises in the Strand.

The second basement contains some additional academic space and also houses Somerset House’s Learning Centre for which the Sorrell Foundation is the principal sponsor.

During the refurbishment process Saxon and Tudor foundations were discovered which are now exposed, with a glass floor and bespoke lighting.

Also part of the brief specified roof insulation, but as traditional methods were not suitable due to the increased weight ‘face change’ materials were used – probably for the first time in a historic building.

Somerset House East Wing – Building Information

Architect: BDP
Project Manager: Gardiner & Theobald
M&E Engineer: Hoare Lea
C&S Engineer: Ramboll
QS: Turner & Townsend
Main Contractor: Wates
Construction Cost: £16.7m

BDP Architects

East Wing images / information from BDP

Somerset House

Location: central London


William Chambers, Architect

Somerset House London building London building design by William Chambers Architect London building design by William Chambers Somerset House
photographs © Nick Weall

Location: off The Strand, north bank of the River Thames

10 June 2008
The Architecture Foundation has announced that it is to move to offices in Somerset House on The Strand from the week starting June 23rd. The eighteenth century palace is now a creatively driven organisation: nurturing innovative ideas, generating exciting partnerships, and developing large-scale events, which attract diverse and young audiences.

From this base the AF’s core team will continue to programme events, exhibitions, education projects and design competitions to wide audiences, and in a variety of locations, under the guidance of a new, to be appointed, Director. Overseeing the team in the meantime will be the Acting Director, Elias Redstone, who has been at the AF for five years and is currently Curator.

The AF is currently located in Clerkenwell, an area where it has been centred for eight years.

Brian Clarke, Chairman of the AF, said:
“Somerset House is a wonderful place in the heart of London that is accessible to the whole city. The quality and level of activity there is rising all the time, and it will be great for the AF to be part of it.”

The Architecture Foundation
Somerset House
South Building
London WC2R 1LA

Somerset House
photo © Nick Weall

William Chambers

ArDe Somerset House, London – 2015

Location: central London, England, UK

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