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BDP’s Leighton House wins the AJ Architecture cultural project award

BDP's meticulous restoration and extension of the Grade II*listed Leighton House secured yet another accolade, claiming victory in the Cultural Project category at the AJ Architecture Awards 2023. The prestigious award recognises the project's outstanding contributions to design quality, sustainability, and its transformative impact on this historic gem.

Originally designed by George Aitchison in 1866, Leighton House served as the home and studio of renowned artist Frederic Lord Leighton. BDP's refurbishment has breathed new life into this historic structure, earning praise from judges who commended BDP's skill, subtlety, and adept ability to unlock spaces for more effective visitor attraction.


One of the key features of the project is the addition of a new basement, housing a climate controlled archive and gallery. This innovative space not only addresses the challenges posed by the historic fabric but also connects with the existing basement, now transformed into a vibrant learning centre. The judges were particularly impressed by the project's deft spatial planning, showcasing thoughtful solutions to preserve the historic allure of Leighton House.

BDP's commitment to conservation and restoration is evident in the repair and enhancement of both internal and external fabric, elevating thermal performance while safeguarding the building's distinctive character. The fully restored Winter Studio, an extension from the late 1880s, stands as a testament to BDP's dedication to preserving Leighton's legacy and understanding of the original house. This is apparent where Georgian wired glass is carefully replaced with ultra thin insulated glazing, whilst retaining the original frames. While the architectural approach celebrates Leighton's affinity for ornament, epitomised by the richly coloured faience tiles that indicate a new entrance, it also demonstrates care and precision.



The project's architectural prowess extends to the incorporation of new elements, seamlessly blending with the existing structure. A helical stair, adorned with a mural by artist Shahrzad Ghaffari titled 'Oneness,' not only adds visual splendor but also pays homage to cultural unity. This integration of art and architecture highlights BDP’s commitment to creating a cohesive and inclusive visitor experience.

David Artis, architect director at BDP, said: "This award win highlights the transformative nature of the project. Careful design ensures Leighton House is accessible to all, providing exceptional visitor and collection care facilities. The refurbishment not only preserves the integrity of the original house but also positions it as a unique asset for the borough and beyond. Places of cultural significance such as Leighton House are crucial for preserving historical legacy, allowing us to delve into the past and appreciate the art and history that came before us and help inform collective futures. The recognition of this award stands as a testament to the enduring legacy and universal appreciation of Leighton House, and the vision and dedication of the client, design team, collaborators and contractors to create and realise the project."



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