Clore Learning Centre

New building and courtyard at The Clore Learning Centre
©Paul Grogan
Interior of Barrack Block converted to education room
©Paul Grogan

Region: London

Local Authority: Richmond upon Thames

Funding Body: Historic Royal Palaces, Clore Duffield Foundation

Year of Intervention: 2007

Summary: The Clore Learning Centre at Hampton Court Palace, which opened in March 2007, has been created by adapting the historic Guard House and part of the Barrack Block, complemented by a sensitively-designed new building, all facing a central courtyard.

Description: The building now known as the Barrack Block was built to house the soldiers stationed at Hampton Court Palace. Listed grade 1 and a scheduled monument, it is architecturally significant as the earliest surviving purpose-built barracks in the country. It was built in 1689, when the Tudor palace was extended and adapted for William and Mary. The construction of the barracks marked the beginning of military life at Hampton Court, which continued until the 1940s.  The upper floor of the barracks contained two large dormitories where the soldiers slept, with separate smaller rooms for officers. In the 1980s these dormitories and rooms were converted into offices.  The Guard House was built around 1900, when the exercise yard was relocated to the north side of the barracks. Originally the building consisted of two separate rooms, plus a small cell (with windows located high up) and a walled exercise yard for the ‘prisoner’. At some point the two separate rooms were combined to create a large room (now one of the education spaces).
Issue: The Barrack Block and Guard House had had a variety of uses in recent years: ticket office, shop and grace-and-favour apartments, as well as education rooms.  An increased requirement for education and exhibition spaces necessitated a more holistic view.  Early consultation with English Heritage allowed the development of a design approach which used and respected the historic buildings, making a positive contribution to the setting.

The siting of the new building was chosen to allow the full length of the impressive Barrack Block to be appreciated, and its form designed to echo the chimneyed roofscape of the historic buildings, using traditional handmade bricks and roof tiles in a modern idiom.  The new building is set back between the Guard House, incorporated into the Centre, and the early twentieth-century Forage store (now used as a plant room), between the Barrack Block and the car park. A new courtyard is formed against the western end of the Barrack Block, the upper floor of which has been converted as part of the Centre. The Gallery inside the new building is the focal point of the new Clore Learning Centre, with visitors greeted here on their arrival at Hampton Court Palace.  It is a dramatic top-lit space which can be used for exhibitions and events as well as for education. Five large education rooms are provided, one in the new building, and four in the historic buildings.  A sensitively-positioned new lift allows full access.  Bronze door handles depicting historic figures designed by Edinburgh-based artist Jill Watson provide interesting detail.

The courtyard and the rear wall of the new building are planted with trees and shrubs, reflecting the planting of the kitchen garden and orchard that were once here. During the preliminary archaeological work on the site a Tudor wall related to Henry VIII’s Tiltyard was located and recorded by archaeologists. Although the wall is shown on historic plans and drawings, its precise location was hitherto unknown.

The design of the new building uses high insulation, natural ventilation and daylighting to achieve low energy consumption. The building won the 'Sustainable Innovation' award at the Sustainable Building Services Awards in November 2007 for the innovative design of the natural ventilation system. The Clore Learning Centre was largely made possible by a generous £1 million donation from the Clore Duffield Foundation.

Outcome: Consideration of the historic buildings has ensured that their potential was maximised and changes to historic fabric minimised. The new facilities will enable Historic Royal Palaces to improve the on-site learning experience for the thousands of primary school pupils who visit Hampton Court Palace annually.


What's New?