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PROJECT REPORT: HERITAGE & CONSERVATION


The design progressed from concept to planning approval in three months – a fact which makes James Twomey justifiably proud of the planning document the project team produced – although he says there was still “never ending” time pressure placed on it. ReardonSmith’s track record of high-profile, sensitive heritage projects over the firm’s 30-year history stood it in good stead, with Twomey himself having been a key player in projects including the Savoy Hotel restoration in London, Brocket Hall and Hanbury Manor, as well as Monastery Santa Rosa in Italy and the Four Seasons St Petersburg.


Beyond the task of achieving a rational overall planning strategy and a considered aesthetic approach, the minutiae of planning layouts to ensure a seamless experience for high-paying guests were in sharp focus. ReardonSmith applied well-established principles of avoiding any ‘crossovers’ between back of house staff and guest movement around the building. James Twomey explains: “It ticks all the boxes in terms of efficiencies and the client’s operational requirements. There was very careful planning of back of house facilities, as well as dedicated service for banqueting, including a dedicated kitchen and prep.”


Part of gaining planning approval so quickly was down to the local authority only having one key stipulation for the new additions, according to Twomey. “They said they would rather we didn’t produce a pastiche of the manor.” The approval process was “extremely amicable and fluid” he says, including a series of public consultations and presentations with the McManus family and local authority. One way that ReardonSmith assured the client and planners that it would produce a sympathetic result was to produce a ‘design book’ for all parties to agree on which showed all the principal details of proposed additions, not just general floorplans.


West wing


Obeying the proviso of creating buildings that respected, rather than imitated, the original historic structure tied in with the practice’s own aims. This meant making the West Wing as complementary in appearance as possible, with restraint rather than adding all the extra detail the Victorians might have chosen. The new wing’s limestone facades tie in to those of the manor house with stone corbels to windows which give a satisfying solidity, and similar dormer windows in the mansard


ADF SEPTEMBER 2018


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roof. Says Twomey: “It has its own sense of place and time, while having a spiritual connection to the manor.” A key architects’ attention to detail was the fact every single stone used was individually scheduled and identified, “whether it was part of a quoin, window surround or corbel.”


The 100 mm-thick limestone used to build the additions was locally sourced, and there were 110 subcontractors working on site at the project’s peak with two separate stonework sub-contractors. Says Twomey, “No one outfit could handle doing the colonnade and West Wing as well as the ballroom, which is also built of limestone. Stonemasons had to remeasure and recut some stones on site to get a precise fit. “It was all hand placed and worked on site – to see them work with such an unforgiving material, with the highest level of precision, was memorable indeed.”


The sheer presence of the substantial new


wing, which extends south further than the curtilage of the manor, is mitigated by a penetration made by a splendid vaulted arch, allowing vehicles through to drop guests at the landscaped entrance of the ballroom beyond. Achieving this visual punctuation which separates guest rooms from a back of house area was essential to get right, says Twomey, “otherwise the plan would have been hard to justify in terms of its scale.” The internal room layout of the West


Wing is set out as straightforwardly as possible to help guests easily navigate the


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No significant upgrades had been made to the main building since 1989


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