Matthew Lloyd Architects’ refurbishment of The RSA (The Royal Society of Arts) in central London has won a RIBA London Award 2013, and the English Heritage Award for Sustaining the Historic Environment, which is awarded to ‘the highest quality architecture of the present day for the way that it forms part of and contributes to the continuity and history of its London context’.
Designed by John and Robert Adam in 1774, the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) is the earliest example in English architecture of purpose-built headquarters for a learned society. Described at its opening as ‘beautifully simple without meanness, and grand without exaggeration’, the building had undergone numerous architectural transformations without any overarching concept, diminishing its original Georgian purity and splendor.
The project’s main objective was to restore the clarity and simplicity of the original Georgian architecture, to install state-of-the art technology unobtrusively, and to increase the flexibility of the spaces for the varied work of the RSA and for use as an income-stream.
The Ground floor is made clear and accessible throughout the 5 Georgian houses of which the building is composed. New informal meeting areas have been incorporated and the Benjamin Franklin Room brought back to its former glory, while throughout the building, technical capabilities are discreetly incorporated, and the simple grandeur of the original architecture revealed.