The project is within a conservation area on the River Thames in Twickenham, and on the site of a house built by the poet Alexander Pope.
Pope’s Villa was demolished in the early 19th century, but the grotto that he constructed has been preserved below a later Victorian merchant’s house, now a school. The remains of the famous willow tree planted by Pope on the riverside are preserved within the grotto.
The project provides a new covered outdoor riverside terrace for recreation, teaching and events. A new stair from an upper terrace improves access to the grade II* listed grotto.
The new structure wraps a prosaic brick elevation to the school’s dining area with a form that responds to the site’s riverside setting.
Tensile fabric canopies are supported by a flitched timber structure, in a form resembling ribbed vaults – a reference both to Pope’s Grotto and the masonry details and decorative timber motifs of the later Victorian buildings.
A further phase of work for the school includes remodelling classrooms, new music and drama studios, and a new sixth form suite.