School in Twickenham, 2014 (ongoing)
Radnor House School in Twickenham is one of the leading co-educational independent day schools in London, educating children from the ages of 9 to 18. The school occupies a group of late 19th century and early 20th century buildings, on the site of Alexander Pope’s former home beside the River Thames. Pope built a house on the site in 1720 and lived there until his death in 1744. Pope’s Villa was demolished in 1808, and the site was re-developed over subsequent years. The only surviving feature is a grotto he built, subsequently incorporated into the 19th century building. The grotto at one time led to private gardens, but today the grade II* listed grotto runs below the school building and the adjacent road. One of the many artefacts housed in the grotto is the remains of Pope’s willow tree, one of the earliest weeping willows to be planted in England. In some accounts the remains of the trunk were put there by JMW Turner, who painted the villa and its setting shortly before demolition. The central and oldest part of the present school buildings is a former tea merchant’s house, built in red brick with stone details and decorative tiling. The upper storey is ‘half-timbered’ with white decorative plaster infill, and clay-tiled roofs.
We have completed a number of projects with the school over the past few years, including a new sixth form suite, music and drama facilities. Externally we have created a riverside terrace and covered dining space that wraps an earlier utilitarian dining room extension with a series of timber and fabric canopies; inspired by the gothic forms of Pope’s Grotto and the later Victorian building. We continue to work with the school on a number of interconnected projects, to improve facilities on this densely occupied and intensively used site.