Richard Murphy Architects
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Centre For Contemporary Art & The Natural World, Poltimore House Near Exeter

Centre For Contemporary Art & The Natural World, Poltimore House Near Exeter

Poltimore House is a Tudor and 18th Century Grade I listed building now in a very derelict and dilapidated condition. East Devon Council and the Poltimore House Trust commissioned the practice in conjunction with Simpson & Brown Architects, who are responsible for conservation work on the building, to convert the building into a Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World. In addition, Gross Max Landscape Architects are collaborating with us on proposals to transform the landscape around the house.

Our project involves a number of radical demotions, mostly of 19th Century alterations to the house: principally the demolition of an already fire gutted ballroom wing, the removal of the west wing and the complete removal of a much vandalised grand staircase in the centre of the building. The result will be a courtyard building where the original Tudor courtyard will be once again visible for the first time for 200 years. The courtyard will act both as a visual heart but also a social organiser of the whole building.

Our major proposal is the construction of a new west wing of galleries on the ground floor and first floor. These galleries will be large white rooms, characterised by an adjacent series of sliding walls. There will be three sliding surfaces of white plasterboard, translucent glass and clear glass, so that a variety of wall conditions can be selected by the Gallery Curator. Galleries will be able to look into the courtyard or look out to the landscape or do both, or neither on both ground and first floor.

In the basement a cafe/restaurant is to be constructed into a lowered garden whilst in the attic space, office accommodation for the building and a caretaker's flat will be inserted. The remainder of the house will be converted into galleries, bookshop, and study centre and education facilities with the major historic room "the Queen Ann Room" (described by Pevsner "as one of the finest rooms in Devon") being restored as small conference facility.

The project is no longer active.

Other Details
Architects Richard Murphy, James Mason, Peter Quinger
Construction Cost £10m
Client East Devon District Council
  • 13 August 2003Architects Home In On TV ProjectEvening News
  • 19 August 2001Hi-tech New Role For Old MansionSunday Times
  • Summer 2001Regeneration Of Poltimore HousePoltimore House Trust Newsletter No 5
  • February 2001Poltimore LivesDevon Life
  • 2 December 2000A Vision For A MansionExpress And Echo
  • 28 July 2000Meet The AncestorsBuilding Design
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