The Royal Academy of Arts has recently reopened The Keeper’s House in London’s Mayfair; the Academy’s social hub underwent a £6.5 million renovation to bring back the glory days, and rising to the challenge (under a fair bit of pressure) were architects Long & Kentish and interior designer David Chipperfield.
The Keeper’s House was created 140 years ago by Academian Sydney Smirke as a perk for the RA School’s Keeper – in the days when perks were really worth having – and the residence boasted such essential 19th Century features as a vaulted wine cellar and a private streetside entrance known as the Model’s Staircase, for discreet entry and exit at all times of the day and night. Ahem. Long & Kentish has also restored wooden beams and fireplace hearths from the site’s earlier incarnations going back to the 1660s. No longer used as accommodation, the venue now includes a restaurant by Oliver Peyton adorned with a selection of classical friezes, and a garden bar in the Annenburg Courtyard. Works of art by Academians such as Tracy Emin and Grayson Perry are on display at the House, which is open to RA Friends, Patrons and Academians until 4pm, after which time the doors are opened to the general public.