Somerset House North Block

Somerset House North Block, a Grade I listed building, by William Chambers, was converted for use by the Courtauld Institute of Art, by Green Lloyd Architects from 1987-90. The project involved bringing into use the large vaulted chambers under the northern part of the courtyard to create libraries for the Institute, as well as teaching rooms, conservation laboratories, and the Kenneth Clark Memorial Lecture Theatre.

Photos opposite show the new libraries created within the Chambers vaults, below the level of the courtyard. Photos are by Jo Reid and John Peck, 1990.

The organization of the space is set by Chambers original plan – a strong cros-axis lit by lightwells set below the courtyard. In order to create the new libraries, w lowered the ground level to create a mezzanine, and enlarged a cantilevered stone stair downward to lead to the library. Throughout old and new are clearly differentiated. Technical challenges facing the construction team included ground water, and dust from the historic brickwork.

Nearby, a student cafe was made in what was originally a water tank, looking up at the Chambers Facade, an essay in architectural correctness. (Photos MB)

Architects: Green Lloyd Architects: Sam Lloyd MA FRIBA, Adrian Petrenco RIBA, Alison Astley RIBA, Bob Adams RIBA, Louise Rokosh, Marcus Beale.

London, UK
Somerset House - North Block - London - Interior
Somerset House - North Block - London - Interior