Premier Construction

Royal Academy of Arts

Royal Academy of Arts
Written by Roma Publications

Royal Academy of Arts

Britain’s foremost artist and architecture-led institution, the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), is undergoing a transformative redevelopment to be completed in time for its 250th anniversary in 2018.

The work, designed by internationally acclaimed architect Sir David Chipperfield CBE RA, will incorporate a number of elements and overhaul the visitor experience. Supported by a grant of £12.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the plans will link Burlington House on Piccadilly and Burlington Gardens for the first time, uniting the two-acre site.

Royal Academy

Link Bridge

The redevelopment will enable the RA to reveal the elements that make it unique, sharing with the public the historic treasures in its Collection, the work of its Royal Academicians and the RA Schools, alongside its world-class exhibitions programme. The new public areas will also allow for more work by Royal Academicians and the RA Schools to be visible.

The new spaces created as part of the redevelopment will also allow for changing displays of the 46,000 objects in the RA Collections to be shown with free access all year-round.

Burlington House and Burlington Gardens, two historic buildings which are part of the RA site, in particular will see major changes and will be linked. The Link Vaults, newly revealed spaces in the undercroft of the House, will also be utilised for the RA Collections.

Burlington Gardens will see the introduction of a Collections Gallery in its western wing and temporary exhibitions in its first floor south wing. A new gallery on the ground floor in the RA Schools will be dedicated to contemporary art projects by the students.

Externally, Burlington Gardens’ grand north façade will be cleaned and repaired to improve the appearance of the building.

Critical to the success of the redevelopment will be the unification of the RA site by the way of a Link Bridge and central route running through Burlington House to Burlington Gardens. The public path between the two historic buildings will be central to improving circulation throughout the RA site.

Learning will also be a key outcome of the redevelopment. A striking new lecture theatre with over 260 seats is being created in Burlington Gardens. Occupying the ground and first floors, original clerestory windows are being reinstated to allow daylight to flood the space that will be at the heart of an increased RA events programme.

In addition, a new Clore Learning Centre located on the ground floor of Burlington Gardens will enable participation in creative learning on site to expand three fold.

RA Schools students will see an improvement to their experience with the expansion of the campus through new project space, studios and a newly landscaped Schools Courtyard. The hope is that in good weather the courtyard will place for informal discussion and reflection for students away from the studios.

A number of alterations will also be made to help improve the RA visitor experience. The entrance to Burlington Gardens will be improved, restored and updated to create a more open and inviting environment in order to draw more people in from the newly-restored portico and street outside. Amenities like lavatories and a new cloakroom will also be updated. Similar improvements will be made at Burlington House.

Sir David Chipperfield CBE RA, Architect behind the work, said:

“The project is an architectural solution embedded in the place itself, a series of subtle interventions which will add up to something very different. The big change is that the Royal Academy will have two entrances: a front door facing Piccadilly in the south and a new front door to Burlington Gardens, Cork Street and Bond Street.”

Tim Marlow, Artistic Director, Royal Academy of Arts, added:

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to create the most animated cultural campus in central London that runs all the way through from Piccadilly to Mayfair.”

Artisan Plastercraft Ltd specialises in Lime Plastering and decorative plaster restoration and conservation. Their services include: fibrous plastering, lath and lime plaster and plaster restoration.

Working on the Royal Academy of Arts project, Artisan Plastercraft is responsible for all the fibrous plasterwork and lime plastering across the restoration.

Katie Clark, Marketing and Business Development Manager for Artisan, said:

“Working on this project we have had to replicate existing plasterwork, repair areas in multiple rooms and dismantle the ceiling in the British Academicians Room in sections and reassemble this ceiling in the newly constructed wing where the BA room has been replicated. We cast moulds of each section we took down, to ensure we safeguarded the original ceiling. We have created new decorative arches to match existing and manufactured and installed a bespoke fibrous plaster niche in the main entrance. The most spectacular room to work on has been the Lecture Theatre where we surveyed and secured the original ceiling. We are repairing and replicating existing mouldings to return this room back to its former glory.”

Royal Academy

Artisan Plastercraft have been working closely throughout the project with the Conservation Architect, Julian Harrap Architects. Lyall Thow, Partner, added:

“The service that Artisan Plastercraft has been providing is of the highest quality. Their skill in restoration has been demonstrated in the British Academicians Room where they have managed to conserve large areas of the original plasterwork as opposed to reconstruction.”

Katie added:

“The Royal Academy of Arts is undergoing a major restoration project to commemorate the RAA’s 250th birthday and it is a privilege to work on such a prestigious building.”

In addition to the HLF grant, the redevelopment has been supported by private individuals, trusts and foundations. Originally founded by King George III in 1768, the Royal Academy of Arts is an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects.

Sir David Chipperfield CBE RA is one of the most significant British architects of his generation and highly acclaimed internationally for his successful projects located across the globe.

To follow the Royal Academy redevelopment’s progress and other plans to mark the 250th anniversary, please visit: https://

Royal Academy of Arts

Smith of Derby

Smith of Derby provides clockmaking, restoration and clock servicing throughout the UK and worldwide. Smith of Derby’s family of clockmaking companies includes four of the most reputable names in British horology, with centuries of experience in clockmaking and restoring public time.

The company works with major contractors, architects and clients in all market sectors and their team of experienced clockmakers are stationed around the country, giving clients the peace of mind that they’re never far away.

The Royal Academy Burlington Gardens is one of many prime London locations where Smith of Derby has restored public time. Here they restored the 1.7m Roman clock on one tower and a similar sized wind-indicator opposite.

The wind-indicator, which is driven from the weathervane, has been fully restored and with a mechanical transmission between vane and pointer.

Synchronous drive with automated battery backup and Summer/Winter time change keeps the clock to time whilst the re-finished dials have kept their traditional pot opal glass and have been finished with 23 ½ carat gilding.

Whilst the wind-vane transmission was in good order, the vane itself was so weather-beaten that some parts had almost disappeared. Careful attention was paid to replicate these, particularly the finial which has been rebuilt from brass to the correct profile, then hand-finished.

Other recent examples of Smith of Derby’s restorative work in London City includes the refurbished clock at St James Market, 22 Regent Street and Little Ben at Westminster.


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Roma Publications

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