Context 167 - March 2021

38 C O N T E X T 1 6 7 : M A R C H 2 0 2 1 AYAKA TAKAKI Restoring Orleans House Octagon The house where the future king of France once lived was demolished to make way for a gravel pit but its Octagon, designed by James Gibbs, remains in restored splendour. The Orleans House Gallery stands in the west part of the grounds of the original Orleans House. The six-acre site includes both natural woodland and a parkland setting close to the river, on the stretch of the Thames between Twickenham and Richmond. The house took its name from Louis Phillipe Duc d’Orleans (1773–1850), later King of the French, who lived there from 1815 until 1817 during his exile.The property was originally built in 1710 for James Johnston, joint secretary of state for Scotland under William III, by John James. The baroque Octagon, Grade I listed, was designed by James Gibbs and constructed around 1720. By the early 20th century the site was derelict. In 1926 the furniture and furnish- ings were auctioned off, and Orleans House and several of the buildings were demolished to make way for a gravel pit. The Octagon and its service wing survived demolition, together with the converted stable block, and have become the Orleans House Gallery, an art gallery which is part of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames arts service. The HLF-funded Transforming Orleans House project was completed in 2018 after a 17-month refurbishment. Using the restored Octagon as a centrepiece, a new north wing gal- lery housing gallery rooms, a shop and accessible toilet facilities was designed by Kaner Olette Architects, with presentation by ZMMA, and built by Quinn London. The gallery now has a programme of volunteer training, family activi- ties and educational visits, and the Octagon has been popular as a wedding venue. This final phase concludes several decades of Donald Insall Associates’ involvement on the Orleans Octagon and stables, from providing conservation advice on phased repairs from 1996 onwards, to overseeing major restoration works. Practice founder Sir Donald Insall and consultant John Dangerfield, who both live locally, advised on phased building conservation and repairs to the Octagon since 1996; and in 2014 the practice was commissioned to prepare a conservation management plan. The project was inherited by Robin Dhar and me, who with our team took on the repair and representation of the Octagon. The project has been of importance to Donald Insall Associates, not just as a series of projects but also as an opportunity to pass on the knowl- edge and experience of the building to the next generations in the practice. Likewise we collabo- rated with newer generations of craftsmen with whom we have been working over many decades. Donald Insall Associates has now worked with three generations of craftspeople from John Joy Orleans House Octagon, designed by James Gibbs, was built in around 1720 (Photo: Richard Chivers)