Refurbishment with new brick from IbstockSympathetic refurbishment with new hand made, imperial sized clay brick from Ibstock

The Royal Academy of Arts. Timeless beauty... 

The Royal Academy of Arts
By David Chipperfield and Julian Harrap
Photos Rory Mulvey

03 August 2020

Royal Academy of Arts
Above: Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts was built in the 1860's and this sympathetic refurbishment was ten years in the making. In aid of the Academy's 250th anniversary, it was opened by Her Majesty, the Queen. The work attempted to use materials that was as close as possible to the original build, in the 1860's so as to seamlessly blend the old and new.


The architects, from Davd Chipperfield Architects and Julian Harrap Architects, insisted that the brick was especially manufactured by Ibstock at their hand-made and traditional manufacturing facility in Swanage, Dorset.  They were made in ‘imperial’ sizes, matching both the reclaimed bricks already saved from the building and those newly manufactured by Ibstock. The mortar used was Heritage Lime Mortar which was applied leaving a flush joint, again in line with the original 1860’s bricklaying technique.


After the completion of each section, the walls were coated with a lime wash to match the existing brickwork, again carefully carried out with great care and sympathy so as to ensure that the appearance of the old and new blended beautifully.


Many of the walls were at least two feet thick and built exactly as the original specification. Similarly, with the brick arches, where the bricks were cut, matched and built in at the work face by highly skilled craftspeople from brickwork contractors, Titan Brickwork Limited. Extensive brick repairs were also undertaken to the existing vaulted arches and exposed foundations which had to be cut back prior to the space being filled with matching brickwork and decorated, in a long-life and breathable wash.


A difficult job, a complicated match but carried out beautifully!