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Leighton House Museum


Location Client Completion
London, UK Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea 2022

Project details

Leighton House Museum is a Grade II* listed building with an internationally significant collection, located within the Holland Park Circle of similar artist’s houses. Purpose-built in 1865 for the eminent Victorian painter, Frederic, Lord Leighton, the property has evolved and expanded over its 150-year history. While earlier phases were directed by Leighton himself, several less satisfactory interventions were built after his death and during the period in which the house transitioned from private home to public museum.

The project selectively removes, reinvents and extends the less significant areas in order to celebrate and safeguard the original house. In doing so, we have completed the restoration of the house and garden and provided the facilities and spaces to create a coherent, inclusive and enjoyable visitor experience, consolidating the museum as an amenity for the local community and beyond.

In addition to extensive building fabric conservation and restoration works, our design incorporates new elements that take their cue from the existing, reinterpreting the language of the house through materials, form and colour. We have created a new entrance and reception space within the Perrin Wing, with new visual and physical connections to the original house and garden. A new staff suite has been created within the volume of the upper gallery space. Leighton’s Winter Studio has been restored and the space beneath it recovered as the De Morgan Café. The existing basement has been extended to provide visitor facilities, display and interpretation space, an archive store and a gallery to display Leighton’s extensive drawing collection.

The new stair and lift ‘rotunda’ completes the evolution and expansion of the house, connects all levels and balances the composition of the garden elevation. It is the site of ‘Oneness’, a hand-painted mural by artist Shahrzad Ghaffari.

BDP has supported the client in developing the project for over 14 years, and the relationship that has been forged, in conjunction with support of key stakeholders such as the Friends of Leighton House and National Heritage Lottery Fund, has resulted in a scheme which is of the highest quality and refinement, and which will enable the museum to fully realise its ambitions.

Built as a private home, studio and personal capriccio, Leighton House was always a tricky visitor attraction. BDP have solved the problem with grace, flair and flamboyance.

Laura Freeman The Times

You cannot see the lighting, only the effect - absolutely perfect for a gallery space like this

Tina Norden Judge


  • To recover the fabric and character of the original house where lost
  • To reduce the burden on the original house by relocating core museum functions to less sensitive and purpose-built areas
  • To provide fit for purpose visitor, education and collection care facilities, including archive store, interpretation space and drawings gallery
  • To improve environmental performance through fabric upgrade and re-servicing
  • To create access for all


  • Sensitive refurbishment, restoration and extension of a Grade II* listed public building, incorporating modern interventions that respond to the character of the place
  • Successful integration of new circulation, lifts and stairs to aid orientation and visitor movement and provide equality of access for the first time in the building’s history
  • Improved connection between the house and it’s garden setting, which has been enhanced through biodiverse planting and landscaping
  • Use of building fabric and new services to provide environmental conditions appropriate to the specific needs of the collection
  • Combining architecture and art to create a powerful visitor experience
  • 2023 WIN Awards - Gold Award
  • 2023 AJ Architect Awards - Cultural Project
  • 2024 RIBA London Award

Integrated services

architecture, civil and structural engineering, building services engineering, landscape architecture, lighting, acoustic consultant