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Fobert and Harrap win Charleston museum contest

Julian Harrap Architects, working with Jamie Fobert Architects, has seen off 115 entries to win the contest to overhaul the Charleston museum

The pair was selected ahead of fellow finalists 6a Architects, Dow Jones, Purcell Miller Tritton, Tony Fretton, Haworth Tompkins and Caruso St John to land the £3.5 million scheme to restore and redevelop the Grade II-listed barn and agricultural buildings - once the country meeting place of the Bloomsbury Group.

The project, for the Charleston Trust, includes the reconstruction of an 18th-century Granary wing and features a range of new facilities such as an auditorium, studio spaces for educational and practical workshops, exhibition and storage spaces, and a restaurant/café.

Colin McKenzie, director of Charleston, said: ‘The combination of sheer creativity and an extremely sensitive understanding of Charleston’s site and history were compelling for us. Julian and Jamie will bring a tremendous body of relevant experience to this exciting project and we can’t
wait to start working with them on the design stage.’

The trust has already secured a ‘first round pass’ from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the scheme.


Charleston was the country home of the artists Vanessa Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf) and Duncan Grant from 1916 until Grant’s death in 1978. Inspired by European Post-Impressionism and Italian fresco painting, its decorated interiors and collection form the only complete example of Bell and Grant’s decorative work, including early pieces from the Omega Workshops.

Previous story (AJ 16.09.09)

Fobert and Fretton on Charleston museum shortlist

Seven finalists have been announced for the £3.5 million redevelopment of the Charleston museum in East Sussex

The shortlist in the contest to redevelop the Charleston - once the country meeting place of the Bloomsbury Group - includes 6a Architects, Dow Jones, Purcell Miller Tritton, Tony Fretton, Haworth Tompkins, Caruso St John and a partnership between Jamie Fobert and Julian Harrap.

Axel Hesslenberg- Courtesy the Charleston Trust

The Charleston Trust wants an architect to develop the Grade-II listed barn and other buildings around the museum in Firle, East Sussex. The Trust asked for a ‘bold and contemporary’ design which makes the most of the museum’s rural setting and minimised the impact of growing visitor numbers.

The Charleston was once the home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant from 1916.It later became a country retreat for artists and intellectuals such as Virgina Woolf, EM Forster and Clive Bell. Every inch of the main house was decorated by them in the style of Italian Fresco painters.

The final seven have until November 6 to work up their designs before submitting them for heritage lottery funding.

Readers' comments (1)

  • May i ask why "Julian Harrap Architects, working with Jamie Fobert Architects" and not the other way around? That seems like inaccurate information...or is this not a collaboration between 2 practices?

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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