21 June 2022

‘Ruins reimagined’: Two retrofit projects by Heatherwick Studio join the RA Summer Exhibition

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Heatherwick Studio is exhibiting two models in this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition showcasing British retrofit projects: Broad Marsh, Nottingham and Parnham Park, Dorset.

The exhibits present two very different approaches to reusing existing fabric – from a Grade I-listed 16th century house to a partially demolished 1970’s shopping centre. Each offers a fascinating response in scale and heritage to the Summer Exhibition’s theme of ‘climate’.

After a tragic fire in 2017, businessman and entrepreneur James Perkins and his wife, Sophie, asked Heatherwick Studio to help them reimagine the Grade I-listed Parnham Park estate in Beaminster, Dorset.

Building on the success of Anyhoe Park which became a leading hospitality venue, the 16th century Parnham House is now being lovingly restored as an events space with GL50 Properties. Part of the intention behind this design is to substantially improve its energy performance and futureproof the building.

The design looks to breathe new life into the heavily damaged western elevation and the diptych of models on show reveals a reimagined Jacobean feature window for the Great Hall. The 9-metre window is designed to be opened in a variety of positions, with cantilevered leaves of glass pivoting on a central point.  

Meanwhile in the heart of Nottingham, the studio is working with the local council to revitalise a 20-acre site. This includes salvaging and reusing the partially demolished shell of a 1970’s shopping mall to provide a new space for a variety of functions.

Repurposing the frame of the mall will reduce the waste and carbon emissions from new construction and provide space for a wide range of community uses including communal kitchens, theatres, learning spaces and sports facilities. The design solution seeks to create a bridge between generations, communities and cultures in the city.


Since Heatherwick Studio was formed in 1994, it has developed a major portfolio of reuse and retrofit projects including the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Zeitz MOCAA in South Africa and Coal Drops Yard, London.

More than 50,000 buildings are demolished each year in the UK, according to the Architects Journal, and finding ways to utilise designers can make to help their clients and policymakers achieve net zero.

The models are on display to the public in the Architecture Room until 21 August. The Architecture Room was curated this year by Niall McLaughlin RA together with Rana Begum RA, and will sit across two spaces, mixing art and architecture together.

For more details and to book tickets for the Summer Exhibition, please visit www.royalacademy.org.uk

Image Credit: Raquel Diniz