The self-designed former home of influential British architect Sir John Soane, Pitzhanger is a Grade I listed museum and gallery in the heart of Ealing, London. A registered charity, the 1804 country house is now a significant heritage attraction with a sizable team of volunteers. A need for new flexible space was identified by the Trust to provide the team with a dedicated area to relax, socialise, and learn, as well as offer the local community and charity groups a place to connect.
Webb Yates worked closely with Jo Townshend Architects, as well as conservation officers at Ealing Council and local amenity groups, to produce an elegant structural solution.
The new hub sits in the Lodge Yard, built within and upon the existing listed Georgian masonry walls. In parts, the existing masonry was built up to form a constant datum with a glazed lantern placed above to provide natural daylight to the interior space.
Internally, the timber ceiling is inspired Soane’s famous ‘handkerchief ceilings’ used within the Manor house. The design creates a ‘ceiling-scape’, formed by using a series of vertical fins, spanning the width of the building. This design is achieved with a cost and carbon-effective solution; a CNC kit of plywood parts in employed to produce the fins, which could be easily assembled on site.
With the exception of some underpinning required by building control, the project is free of concrete and steel with much of the existing building fabric reused.
The result is an intelligent and sensitive multi-use space, which emanates Sir John Soane’s vision and standing as one of the most innovative architects of his time.