Atomik Architecture updates west London school building with gridded extension

Thorpe Lodge is a Grade II-listed building and the former home of Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England from 1920 to 1944. Since 1958, it has provided an entrance to Holland Park School. Used in recent years for storage and art classes, but without any significant investment in the building for over 50 years, it was in need of a new lease of life. The lodge had remained largely untouched when the main school building was replaced in 2013.

Atomik Architecture’s approach combines the revival of Norman’s Arts and Crafts interior with a retrofit to create a new useable space. The internal spaces have been tied back together to create a new sense of arrival for the school, while an art studio extension has been added to connect the building to the main school and landscape.

Originally a Palladian-style villa surrounded by countryside, the lodge had been added to over decades, resulting in a building of mismatched styles, levels, services and spaces. The key challenge was conserving these original features while adapting the lodge to meet modern standards.

Existing classroom with arts and crafts interior

The entrance’s reconfiguration included moving the main gate backwards and creating a small infill extension up to the boundary wall.

Having researched the history of the building and working with architectural archaeologist and historian, Jonathan Foyle, the team studied every fitting of the interior to understand how best to adapt it. Rare woods and bespoke silica tiles lay beneath decades of local authority brown varnish and these were exposed as part of the renovation.

The new extension, accommodating an art studio, can be adapted for different users with a mixture of solid walls to paint on and window openings offering views across the landscape and main school.

Bespoke sliding internal screens can be moved up and down for students to use with modular panels enabling art  at various scales – a single canvas could be up to 8 x 5m. The screens create a simple grid broken down proportionally through window mullions to the setting-out of the floor and carried through to a sawtooth roof.

Externally, the façade has a natural palette of render and timber, complementing the existing fabric.

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New extension with sliding panelled walls

Architects’ view

This project has been a fascinating journey for the practice for many reasons. Each chapter of the building’s history is a captivating story in itself. Through careful research, drawing and models we were able to observe and understand how the building had changed and adapted over time, which in turn helped to inform us about what our approach to the building, its conservation, adaptation and augmentation, should be and to continue the narrative of the building’s evolution.

The school’s leadership team set a demanding brief that required both innovation and commitment from the whole project team. From the design of the new Baubuche roof structure, the technical development and prototyping of the dynamic screens, to the co-ordination and integration of modern building services within the context of the listed building.

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Interior sketch

The project transforms the problematic empty building into an asset central to the school. The new entrance 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.
Mike Oades and Derek Draper, directors, Atomik Architecture

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Client’s view

Thorpe Lodge has stood majestically for some 200 years, and on the school’s site since its opening in 1958. Once the home of the school’s Sixth Form, for 20 years it stood in a state of disrepair and disuse. The vision and skills of Atomik Architecture and the support of the Royal Borough enabled school leaders and trustees to bring the building back to life for the benefit of the whole school community.

A reconfigured reception adds an exceptional introduction to the school and heightens our entry security. The contemporary extension, to the south of the building, has given students a light-filled, multi-use space, ideal for use as an art gallery and performance space. The house itself has been returned to its former splendour with its original finishes retained and painstakingly restored. The drawing room now hosts the Student Leadership Team’s weekly meetings, and the larger rooms have once again welcomed back the Sixth Form as spaces for their A-level lessons.

The Lodge sits in historic complement to the new Holland Park building and ensures that the past remains an intrinsic part of the school’s future.
David Chappell, academy head, Holland Park School

 b9809d85 1da2 4579 9d05 61653db85ad4 Interior Model

Project data

Completion September 2021
Gross internal floor area 1,047m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 3,216m²
Form of contract Traditional
Construction cost £3.2 million
Construction cost per m2 £3,056
Architect Atomik Architecture
Client Holland Park School
Structural engineer Eckersley O’Callaghan
M&E consultant Peter Brett Associates
QS PT Projects
Historic building consultant Jonathan Foyle
Historic paint consultant Patrick Baty
Principal designer Atomik Architecture
Approved building inspector Approved Inspector Services
Main contractor Philiam Construction
Joinery and glazing subcontractor Batty Joinery
CAD software used MicroStation, Rhino3D

Environmental performance data

EPC rating C
Percentage of new-build floor area with daylight factor >5% 98%

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