Atomik Architecture updates west London school building with grid 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 entrance to Holland Park School. Used in recent years for storage and art classes, but without significant investment in the building for over 50 years, it needed a breath of fresh air. The lodge had remained largely intact 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 renovation to create a new usable space. Internal spaces have been linked 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 the landscape.

Originally a Palladian-style villa surrounded by countryside, the lodge has been extended over the decades, resulting in a building with mismatching styles, levels, services and spaces. The main challenge was to retain these original features while adapting the lodge to modern standards.

Existing classroom with arts and crafts interior

The reconfiguration of the entrance included moving the main door to the rear and creating a small infill extension to the perimeter wall.

After researching the building’s history and working with archaeologist and architectural historian, Jonathan Foyle, the team studied each interior layout to understand how best to fit it. Rare woods and bespoke silica tiles lay beneath decades of local authority brown varnish and these were put on display as part of the refurbishment.

The new extension, hosting an art studio, can be adapted for different users with a mix of solid paintable walls and window openings offering views of the landscape and the main school.

Custom-made sliding internal screens can be moved up and down for students to use with modular panels allowing for art at different scales – a single canvas can measure up to 8 x 5m. The screens create a simple grid decomposed proportionally through window mullions down to the floor layout and continued up to a sawtooth roof.

Externally, the facade features a natural palette of plaster and wood, complementing the existing fabric.

New extension with sliding paneled walls

View of the architects

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

The school’s management team defined demanding specifications that required innovation and commitment from the entire project team. From the design of the new Baubuche roof structure, the technical development and prototyping of the dynamic screens, to the coordination and integration of modern building services in the context of the listed building.

Interior sketch

The project transforms the problematic empty building into a central asset for the school. The new entrance reconnects the school to the street and creates a more welcoming sense of arrival. The renovations make the building perfect for community use and the extension of the art studio puts this fabulous building back at the heart of the school’s programme.
Mike Oades and Derek Draper, Principals, Atomik Architecture

The customer’s point of view

Thorpe Lodge has stood majestically for around 200 years and on the site of the school since it opened in 1958. Once the home of the school’s sixth form, for 20 years it lay in a state of disrepair and disuse . The vision and skills of Atomik Architecture and the support of the Royal District have enabled the heads of establishments and trustees to bring the building back to life for the benefit of the entire school community.

A reconfigured reception adds an exceptional introduction to the school and reinforces our security of entry. The contemporary extension, to the south of the building, gave the students a bright and versatile space, ideal for use as an art gallery and performance space. The house itself has been restored to its former glory with its original finishes retained and carefully restored. The lounge now hosts the weekly meetings of the student leadership team, and the larger halls once again hosted the sixth form as spaces for their A-level classes.

The Lodge sits as a 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 Director, Holland Park School

Project data

Completion September 2021
Gross interior floor area 1,047m²
Gross floor area (internal + external) 3,216m²
Form of contract Traditional
Building cost £3.2 million
Construction cost per m2 £3,056
Architect Atomic Architecture
Customer Holland Park School
structural engineer Eckersley O’Callaghan
M&E consultant Peter Brett Associates
QS PT projects
Historic building consultant Jonathan Foyle
Historical painting consultant Patrick Baty
lead designer Atomic Architecture
Certified building inspector Licensed Inspector Services
Main contractor Philiam Construction
Carpentry and glazing subcontractor Batty carpentry
CAD software used MicroStation, Rhino3D

Environmental performance data

EPC ranking VS
Percentage of new construction floor area with daylight factor > 5% 98%

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