The National Trust has revealed visualisations of design concepts by the six shortlisted architect-led teams for the restoration of Clandon Park, the 18th Century Palladian mansion that was gutted by fire in 2015.
A fire in April 2015, thought to have been caused by a manufacturing fault in an electrical board, left only a small portion of the house unscathed. However, the house’s brick superstructure, the Speakers’ Parlour, and architectural features in its celebrated Marble Hall survived. Six hundred artefacts were rescued on the night of the fire and others, removed from the debris, await conservation.
The “restoration, reimagining and rebuilding” of Clandon Park, originally designed by Giacomo Leoni, is the Trust’s “biggest conservation project in a generation”. Proposals are on display at the property from Wednesday 23 August until Sunday 1 October, on lawns in front of the grand house.
If you aren’t able to pay a visit, here’s a video tour of all six restoration concepts:
TEAM 1: AL_A and Giles Quarme & Associates with Arup and Gross.Max
TEAM VISION: The fire that nearly destroyed Clandon is a catalyst for our reimagination of the house and landscape as place of wonder.
The moment of entering the ruin of Clandon today is exciting and visceral. We have held onto that sensation and found ways of ensuring that feeling resonates through the entire house. The Saloon becomes the entrance and visitors’ starting point – it is a preserved ruin that will be a space of mediation between history and modernity, between art and architecture, and between building and landscape – a conversation held in one, triple height volume.
We present the physical layers that were peeled back by the fire and reveal traces of Clandon’s multiple histories to the public in a very direct and poetic way. The visitors’ journey around the house shows Clandon as a place of restored reason embedded within the ruin, culminating with a new second floor dedicated to an international standard top-lit gallery for exhibitions.
The house and landscape converse once more, playing off Clandon’s restored Palladian geometries against the natural and the picturesque, a reconciliation between the formal and informal.
Team 2: Allies and Morrison and Feilden + Mawson with Price & Myers, Max Fordham, Tom Stuart-Smith and Nissen Richards Studio
TEAM VISION: Clandon Park has a story to tell.
Our instinct is to welcome the found layers within its walls, to find exactly the right balance of old and new for each space. A new chapter begins with the restoration of the Marble Hall. A series of grand rooms of the piano nobile, each one with its own story kept, are then strung as an elegant necklace of an enfilade route, to the former Palladio Room, whose floor, ceiling and walls have all gone, leaving a space almost as thrilling as the Marble Hall itself, connecting the lower ground right up to the roof.
In one circuit, a striking multi-level staircase takes its place here, encased within the brick walls that have been left alone throughout the house. Here, the past, present and future unfold, culminating in a space connecting all three, a New Hall, an open invitation to explore Clandon further.
Team 3: Donald Insall Associates and Diller Scofidio + Renfro with Price & Myers, Max Fordham, Tom Stuart-Smith and Barker Langham
TEAM VISION: The restoration of Clandon Park will breathe new life and activity into the house and landscape while immersing the public in its layered history. Rethinking the conventions of the building and redefining Leoni’s legacy, the project will reinterpret the historic room through careful conservation, meticulous recreation, and contemporary insertions in a narrative that unfolds through a sequence of spaces.
Damage from the fire is selectively exposed and used as a tool to reveal construction details never before seen. Newly inserted spaces and infrastructure provide flexibility to support a renewed cultural framework and educational workshops for the National Trust. There are remains of the late 17th Century garden layout with its axial geometry in the immediate setting of the house and these will be redefined by a new formal garden fading to a softer pastoral symmetry.
Team 4: Purcell and Sam Jacob Studio with Arup, Qoda, Churchman Landscape Architects and Brendan Cormier
TEAM VISION: Clandon Park’s history of repetitive reconstruction is reimagined in this proposal from Purcell & Sam Jacob Studio, combining conservation excellence with a progressive architectural approach to develop a rich spatial and material dialogue between historic fabric and contemporary spaces.
In the 1730s architect Leoni built Clandon as Palladian villa. Purcell & Sam Jacob Studio’s proposal takes this as design concept for Clandon’s reinvention.
Leoni’s Marble Hall, which operates like a distinct internalised building within Clandon’s architectural arrangement, skilfully restored. Alongside this, three new internal villas are created, all imaginative and engaging. Each has a distinct role in organising use, visitor experience, and relationship to landscape.
They create a spatial sequence and composition that balances old with new, giving sectional and spatial significance to ambitious public programmes of entrance, gallery and learning while retaining Clandon’s historic Palladian grandure. Reimagining Clandon’s unique spirit to honour its past and create its future.
Team 5: Selldorf Architects and Martin Ashley Architects and Cowie Montgomery Architects with Arup, Vogt Landscape and Jorge Otero-Pailos
TEAM VISION: Our scheme for the renovation of Clandon Park honours its rich architectural and cultural history whilst providing an opportunity for a dynamic and transporting visitor experience. It will demonstrate the National Trust’s commitment to conservation in a changing world with a creative, progressive, and inclusive way forward.
The landscape experience is extended by a new curvilinear Arrival Path which brings visitors to a west forecourt where they will enter at a new loggia. Re-grading at the south garden allows the piano nobile to be read as Leoni intended, and a new café terrace and topiary maze deepens connections to the landscape. The Marble Hall and other principal rooms are restored to their pre-fire splendour whilst new spaces for changing exhibitions, events and classes provide opportunities for further learning and engagement. A new top-lit stair rises through the building connecting all floors and allowing people to experience Clandon’s layers of history.
Team 6: Sergison Bates Architects and AOC Architecture with Philip Hughes Associates, Price & Myers, Ritchie + Daffin, Tom Stuart-Smith, Graphic Thought Facility and Tavenor Consultancy
TEAM VISION: Clandon Park endured as the finest of hosts until the great fire. It retains potential to be reborn as a place for performance and debate. Conserving the old whilst constructing the new, we propose a contemporary legacy – by combining the finest traditions of artistry and craft. In the new spaces we provide, we encourage every visitor to contribute to the experience of Clandon.
We re-describe the house as sumptuous, vivid and remarkable – using the critical act of conservation to define characters of space with material presence. Visitors enjoy open access, with a whole host of engaging interpretation and active uses; an everyday local resource, a unique place to meet the National Trust.
Already a local landmark, we want Clandon to be known for its extraordinary future as much as its past – creating a new place in an old body; made for meeting and shaping values that transcend time.