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Wright & Wright brings ‘light touch’ to Nash terrace conversion

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The Royal Academy of Engineering’s new enterprise hub occupies the lower floors of a Grade I-listed terrace designed by John Nash in St James’s, London

The enterprise hub will be used as a research area for budding engineers and a venue for them to be mentored by fellows of the academy.

The project spans the three lower floors of 3-4 Carlton House terrace, which was designed by Nash in 1827. It contains a number of vaults and double-height spaces.

The £4 million project, which opened earlier this month, is centred around a foyer, with smaller meeting rooms occupying the restored vaults. These rooms are clustered around a break-out space which connects to the adjacent courtyards.

(m)sections proposed facing north 11,20

Architect’s view

The design was born out of careful analysis of the historic fabric and a clear brief to find a strategy to improve connections. The existing spaces are fundamentally beautiful, therefore new elements have a common light touch to enhance the tactile experience; bringing warmth, light and colour.

Spaces that were closed off within the storey-high ceiling voids have been fully returned, exposing the original height of the rooms. The unveiling of these double-height spaces has greatly improved access and connections between the two properties, as well as resolving long-standing logistical problems, and revived areas in need of repair. A new connecting corridor has been cut with precision through the mezzanine floor brick vaults, forming a direct link between the buildings.

In order to highlight the sculptural qualities of the restored vaulted spaces, we used a restrained material palette throughout the project. Detailed oak screens line each meeting room, giving a warm and a tactile quality to the spaces as well as containing additional services, AV screens and storage. 

Project data

Client The Royal Academy of Engineering
Procurement Competition
Appointment 2014
Completion 2016
Construction cost £4.1 million
Project manager Stuart A Johnson Consulting  
Structural & services engineer Arup
Quantity surveyor Faithful and Gould
Main contractor Knight Harwood
Fire safety consultant Menzies Partners

(m)section south for press dwg

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