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Construction begins on Atomik’s Holland Park School art block

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Construction has started on a new art facility at Holland Park School in Kensington, London, designed by Atomik Architecture

The school – one of the UK’s first comprehensives – was once dubbed the ‘socialist Eton’ because a number of high-profile leftwingers sent their children there. The project will restore and extend one its oldest buildings, the Grade II-listed Thorpe Lodge which is currently only in partial use.

Built in 1816, the lodge is the sole survivor from a group of seven grand houses built on the Phillimore Estate part of which later became Holland Park.

The existing building stands on the north-eastern edge of the park and had several distinguished residents, including the Victorian portrait artist Henry Tanworth Wells and Montagu Norman, governor of the Bank of England.

The scheme includes a new 6.5m² porters lodge to ‘create an enhanced sense of arrival for visitors’ while a new 88m² art space built with exposed glue-laminated timber sections will link to the Tanworth Wells’ studio.

Large sash screens in this extension can be lowered to create painting surfaces of up to 7m x 5m in size.

Atomik was set up in 2013 and now has offices in east London and Almaty, Kazakhstan. It says work on the scheme will complete in spring 2019.

Architect’s view

This project has given us an opportunity to explore how we work with historic buildings in more detail, to build on their strengths and opportunities to produce an incredible sequence of spaces.

Thorpe lodge has a captivating history. The original building was a Palladian style villa surrounded by countryside. In 1875 the Victorian portrait artist Henry Tanworth Wells favoured Gothic revival when he commissioned John Loughborough Pearson to add his art studio. In 1907 Governor of the Bank of England Montagu Collet Norman remodelled the lodge in an international Arts and Crafts style and cloaked all the buildings alterations in a chunky white render. Since becoming part of Holland Park School in 1956, its usefulness as a teaching space has diminished and teaching methods have changed.

The project transforms the problematic empty building into an asset central to the school. The new Porter’s Lodge reconnects the school to the street and creates a more welcoming sense of arrival. The refurbishment works make the building perfect for community uses and the art studio extension knits this fabulous building back into the heart of the school’s curriculum.

Derek Draper, Atomik Architecture

Project data

Client Holland Park School
Architect Atomik Architecture
Structural engineer Eckersley O’Callaghan
M&E consultant Peter Brett Associates
Quantity surveyor PT Projects
Historic Building Consultant Jonathan Foyle
Visualisers Darc Studio
Start on site date Spring 2018
Completion date Spring 2019
Contract duration 12 months
Form of contract and/or procurement JCT 2016
Total cost Undisclosed

Atomik architecture thorpe lodge (5)

Atomik architecture thorpe lodge (5)

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