Ealing’s Pitzhanger Manor has been given an RIBA London Award.
After a three-year restoration, Pitzhanger Manor has been restored to its Soane-era splendour by Jestico + Whiles, together with heritage specialists Julian Harrap Architects.
Built in 1804 as a country retreat for his family, Pitzhanger Manor was essentially John Soane’s portfolio and architectural laboratory, detailing his talents to potential clients while housing his impressive collection of art and antiquities. Over the next two hundred years the house has undergone various adaptions and extensions with much of the ‘Soanian’ details of the Grade I-listed building being concealed by Victorian and Edwardian additions.
Working with the Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery Trust the design team researched Soane’s architectural plans and drawings in various archives, as well as studying the fabric of the building itself. This culminated in the reinstatement of three key aspects of Soane’s design; a conservatory overlooking Walpole Park, a striking rooflight over the centre of the building and a colonnade that would have linked the manor to a kitchen block. This required the removal of a Victorian infill building and extensions deemed to detract from the setting and prominence of the mansion. The 1939 library built over the kitchen has been retained and transformed into a contemporary gallery space.
Within the Manor itself, all the dramatic decorative schemes had been painted over by the Victorians, including paint effects simulating marbled and wooden finishes. The design team have pieced together Soane’s original designs to recreate the splendour of these spaces. In particular, say the RIBA, the upper drawing room is outstanding, with its breath-taking pastel-coloured ceiling and walls redecorated with Chinese wallpaper based on the tiny fragments that remained underneath existing panelling.
The restoration extends to the grounds, including the entrance sequence incorporating the curving carriage drive, a new cafe/restaurant in a corner of the walled kitchen garden, and the preservation and enhancement of Walpole Park.
In summary, say the RIBA, the scheme shows what can be achieved with an enlightened client and a talented design team to create a delightful design that offers an important insight into the quirky and wondrous world of Soane for generations to come.
Image © Dirk Lindner