£6.5m project will transform Royal Society of Sculptors building

Purcell has won full planning and listed building consent for the restoration of the headquarters of the Royal Society of Sculptors in South Kensington.

The project will rehabilitate Dora House’s historic 19th-century facade alongside essential works to safeguard the exterior of the building. It is due to complete summer 2022.

It is the first phase of a £6.5m five-year programme to conserve and transform the ornate, Dutch-gabled building into a leading centre of sculpture and 3D art.

Designed by William Blake in 1820 as a pair of Georgian houses, it was remodelled by architect William Flockhart in 1885 and over the years was used as the studios and homes of sculptors, photographers and architects.

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Royal Society of Sculptors, Old Brompton Road

It was bequeathed to the society in the 1970s. It rents out half the building for income generation while the remainder serves as offices and exhibition space for the society.

Each year an estimated 12,000 people visit, while 2.9 million pass the sculpture terrace on Old Brompton Road.

Clare Burnett, president of the society, said: “Dora House has been in need of repair for many years and the situation is critical – one staff member has to sit under an umbrella when it rains, the basement is out of bounds due to damp and the front and chimney are in need of a complete overhaul.”

Architect Louise Mark, who is leading on the conservation repair works for Purcell, said the work would repair the external building envelope and improve access across the site to facilitate future maintenance.

“The works focus on masonry repairs to the front elevation and sculpture garden, including the rebuilding of the front boundary wall, gate piers and front entrance steps, as well as repairs to the brickwork and stone dressings across the main facade,” she said. “Specialist repairs will also be carried to the balcony railings and signage to restore them to their former glory.”