Jo Townshend Architects complete the Learning Center at Pitzhanger Manor

The hub is located within the Bitzinger Manor area, an 1804 country house designed and for John Soane in West London. The house is a National Heritage site, so Jo Townshend Architects worked in close consultation with Ealing Council conservation officials and local amenities groups.

It was built within the listed Georgian masonry walls, and when needed, the existing construction was built to form a fixed bolster with a glass lantern placed above to provide natural daylight to the interior space.

When developing their design, Jo Townshend Architects says they look to reflect Soane’s ongoing architectural inspiration, which begs the question: What can Soane do today? In particular, Pitzhanger Manor’s famous Soane “napkin ceilings” shape inspired the roof design, which undulates in a “roof view” – low in the middle and rising around the perimeter – formed using a series of vertical fins that extend across the width of the building.

A cost- and carbon-effective solution to this ambitious roof design was achieved using a CNC set of finned, easily assembled on-site plywood parts developed by working closely with structural engineer Webb Yates.

Except for a few local props required by the building’s observation, the project is free of concrete and steel with much of the existing building’s fabric being reused.

Architect’s opinion

After five years of conceptualizing, planning, strategizing and building alongside talented teams at Webb Yates Engineers, AECOM and JK London, we’re finally able to unveil the Pitzhanger Hub.

A subtle nod to John Soane’s design methodologies led to a modest building, consisting mostly of a lantern roof structure that sits atop existing brick walls. A frosted glass surround encourages natural daylight to enter the space, filtered between an expertly designed plywood napkin ceiling.

It has been a pleasure working with the Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust to provide a welcoming space for the Pitzhanger volunteer network and the local community in Ealing, and hopefully this sets a precedent for what can be achieved in a compact back site.
Jo Townshend, Director of Jo Townshend Architects

Customer’s point of view

We are delighted with this intelligent and sensitive interpretation of our brief to reflect Swan’s continuing architectural inspiration as one of the most innovative architects of his time. Jo Townshend Architects, Webb Yates Engineers, AECOM and the entire project team championed beautiful design by creating a stylish, modern and welcoming space that will greatly enhance our volunteer and community experience at Pitzhanger.
Claire Gough, Director of Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery

project’s data

Get started on the site August 2021
Completion date May 2022
Total indoor floor area 35 m2
Total floor area (indoor + outdoor) 45 m2
Contract form or purchase method JCT Minor Works Construction Contract
Architect Joe Townshend Architect
client Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery Trust
Structural Engineer Web Yeats for Engineers
Feasibility and concept design Aecom engineers
CNC plywood fins CNC projects
light bench studio
chief designer Joe Townshend Architects
Certified Building Inspector Ealing Council
main contractor GK London Construction
CAD software used Vectorworks

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