In expanding its presence in Central London, the British Academy aims to innovatively reshape how it engages with researchers, thought leaders and the public, by developing a spatially and technologically sophisticated network to promote discourse in the humanities and social sciences.
Its Grade I listed building plays a critical role in this mission. Originally designed by John Nash, the Carlton House Terrace will be remodeled and optimised by Wright & Wright, thereby transcending its origins as a set of grand dwellings into an incubator of ideas and a crucible of public engagement.
Drawing on the building’s history, the visual richness of the original architecture informs the language of the rejuvenated spaces to generate an evocative synthesis of new and old, underscored by an environmentally conscious design approach that will equip the building for the challenges of the future. The future British Academy will serve as a distinguished and delightful new forum for intellectual interaction in the heart of London.
Central to the project is the design of a new auditorium at the heart of the Academy and three flexible event spaces to host discussion and debate. The Academy’s interior is indisputably magnificent and over time, changes to the fabric have always been carried out in an original and dynamic way.
The ambition for these new works is to transform under-used spaces on the lower floors, improve visitor flow and accessibility, and activate the building as an armature for exchange, capable of sustaining a range of in-person, digital and hybrid activities, thereby enabling the Academy to reach an ever-wider, international audience.
This marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the British Academy. The transformation of our building signals a new opening up of our physical spaces and a significant investment in our digital infrastructure, enabling us to bring vital knowledge, perspectives and creativity to audiences in the UK and internationally.
Professor Julia Black CBE
President of the British Academy
Designed and realised during Covid, the two upper floors of the British Academy were fully refurbished and modernised. The design took opportunities to open-up dark corridors to the light, long views to the Mall, introduce more meeting and informal spaces for exchange of ideas and hybrid working.
A Historic Site
New spaces will exist in dialogue with the 1830s Grade I listed architecture of John Nash.
Rather than competing with historical precedent, the scheme thoughtfully integrates contemporary elements with the landmark work of previous architects' layered interventions on the building, resulting in a compelling architectural dialogue that is sensitive to the listed site yet innovatively progressive in providing new, accessible solutions for its use today.