• COMPLETION : 2017
  • CLIENT : Turner’s House Trust
  • LOCATION : Twickenham, London
  • COST : £2.4 million. Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £1.4 million

Turner’s House

Turner’s House is a small, early 19th century villa, designed by the eminent landscape painter, J.M.W.Turner, as a rural retreat near the Thames in Twickenham. In May 2017, following an extensive conservation project, Turner’s House opened as a visitor attraction. Through a radical conservation approach and ‘creative demolition’, the building has been transformed back to Turner’s original vision of a small solemn brick structure. The interiors have been re-formed and lightly furnished, with playful technological devices animating the spaces.

“It was a pleasure to work with Butler Hegarty Architects on the project to conserve Turner’s largest work of art – the little villa in Twickenham that he designed for himself and his old dad. BHA understood Turner’s vision. They were skilful and sure footed in navigating the intricacies of the project, and courageous in addressing the challenges presented by the conservation issues. The Trust is delighted with our quietly radical Turner’s House.”

Catherine Parry-Wingfield, Chairman of Turner’s House Trust, 2013-2019

TURNER’S HOUSE TRUST

Turner’s House Trust, a registered Charity, runs the building as a small historic house and visitor attraction, with an associated programme of events and activities. This use of the building is entirely congruent with its’ small domestic character and intimate scale of the rooms

CONSERVATION PHILOSOPHY

The overarching philosophy behind the repair and conversion of Sandycombe Lodge has been to return the building to Turner’s vision. Soon after Turner’s departure in 1926, Sandycombe Lodge was greatly altered by the addition of upper floors to the side wings, and a further clumsy 20th century bathroom extension. In a radical and interventionist approach, ‘creative demolition’ has been used to remove the post-Turner material, prioritizing Turner’s work, and crystallizing the project as the conservation of the only architectural work of ‘the great magician’, England’s eminent landscape painter.

RESEARCH AND REFERENCES

Turner’s own sketchbooks have been a fundamental reference in understanding his thinking about the building. The earliest surviving evidence that Turner not only planned to build a house but to ‘be ones own architect, the pleasures increasing day by day, strata by strata ‘ (as he later wrote to a friend), comes in the large number of drawings in his sketchbooks from 1810 -1812. These sketches show the rear or side elevations, and Turner’s plans for his house. Contemporary engravings by others illustrate the rear of the building in its (then) picturesque rural setting.

THE BUILDING REVEALS A SURPRISE

A significant and unexpected challenge in the project emerged when the side wings were lowered and the flank walls of the main block of the house were revealed for the first time in nearly 200 years. We were expecting to find original stucco or render on these flank walls, but instead we found facing brick with penny lined pointing, clear evidence that the walls of the building were fair-faced brickwork. In response to this revelation, the project team had to rapidly and deftly digest and analyze the building’s implicit new identity – not a ‘polite’ and pretty Regency villa, but a more solemn brick structure.

INFORMATION

Completion:

2017

Client:

Turner’s House Trust

Location:

Twickenham, London

Cost:

£2.4 million.
Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £1.4 million

AWARDS

RIBA Awards 2018

RIBA London Conservation Award
RIBA London Award

Civic Voice Design Awards 2018

Winner of  The People’s Award
Highly commended in the Historic Buildings category

Brick Awards 2018

Highly Commended

RICS Award 2018

Shortlisted, Building Conservation category