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Located in the eastern corner of the Grade II* listed Burlington House courtyard, the Keepers House was built in the 1870s as a residence for the Keeper of the RA. Over the years, the annex had lost its purpose, with areas falling into disrepair. As the Academy acquired new space in Burlington Gardens, the opportunity to redesign and renovate the annex for members arose.
With a membership of some 95,000, additional facilities had been long overdue. Members now have access to the new restaurant, cocktail bar, garden and lounges. A central glazed lift and staircase structure were installed, making an architectural feature of the provision of access to all floors.
The interiors for the building were designed by David Chipperfield Architects and the garden was designed by landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith. Works of art by Royal Academicians, including Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin are on display throughout.
Prior to commencing, Sykes carried out an enabling works contract to prepare the site. The enabling works began to uncover the original design of the House revealing many features including a beautiful niche and concealed fire place. In the Architecture Room, the wallpaper, carpet and a false wall were removed to show some of the original wooden panelling, a parquet floor with stone edging and a hidden door that leads through to the main galleries.
A mixture of old and contemporary finishes throughout the house, including original beams and exposed brickwork amidst smooth modern walls, have brought a new lease of life to this historic space. The Keepers House project was the culmination of a 2-year contract for Sykes, and part of a longer-term Masterplan of the Academys to develop the estate for future generations.