Architects appointed for new Chiswick House Café

Award winning Caruso St. John “honoured” to be selected

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Award winning architects Caruso St. John have been appointed to design the new café in the gardens of the 18th Century Chiswick House as part of the site’s multi million pound Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) restoration project.

Winners of several awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects, Caruso St. John were recently among just six practices short-listed for this year’s Stirling Prize, the UK’s most prestigious architecture awards. They designed the New Art Gallery in Walsall and are currently completing work at the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood and Downing College, Cambridge, both of which are listed buildings.

The appointment panel for the work at Chiswick, composed of the three project partners, the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, English Heritage and London Borough of Hounslow, were unanimous in their selection of Caruso St. John to take forward designs for the new café and outline ideas for the new facilities building proposed for a later phase of the project.

Joanne Sawicki, of the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, said “This is a site of international importance and the architecture of the café needs to respond to this. This is not just a ‘café in the park’ but a new piece of architecture in a landscape of exceptional significance. Caruso St John demonstrated a very good understanding of the site and sensitivity to community issues. They demonstrated strong design skills and the ability to integrate new buildings in historic settings.”

Current proposals would see the café re-sited to the north side of the lawn to give it a south-facing aspect and terrace for tables outside, as well as a new children’s play area.

Architect Peter St John says “Chiswick House and Gardens is an extraordinarily beautiful place whether or not you know about its history. Its innovations in the setting of buildings within landscape were very influential on the course of English architecture and garden design. It’s an honour to be involved in such a significant project.”

In January 2006, the HLF earmarked £7.9 million as part of a £12.1 million project to restore the gardens and develop the new café. The HLF then asked the project team to develop more detailed plans, including submission of outline visuals for a new facilities building to house the shop, toilets and provide disabled access to the Grade I listed villa. Although this is part of a later phase of regeneration, it is important to see how all the buildings will relate to each other and the landscape.

The target date for the submission of these Stage 2 plans has now been extended to early 2007 to allow the project team to work up this additional information.

The Chiswick House and Gardens Trust was established in April 2005 by English Heritage and the London Borough of Hounslow to integrate the management of the House and Gardens. It includes local representation. The Trust is putting the final touches to a new Chiswick House and Gardens Trust website, which will be accessible at . The long term aim is to use it as an interactive tool to gather community feedback on the project developments.

November 16, 2006