The Garden Museum 

Dow Jones Architects, London, 2017


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The museum occupies a church 

Anthony Coleman     Download Original

  • The museum occupies a church    
  • A courtyard garden is at the eastern end of the building    
  • The extension is clad in bronze    
  • New planting has been undertaken by Dan Pearson    
  • The garden pavilions provide a large and a small education room for a range of learning and community activities    
  • The building contains a collection on the history of British gardening    
  • St Mary at Lambeth is a deconsecrated grade II*-listed church    
  • The space is filled with light    
  • The project’s low-carbon strategy responds to national, church, museum and best practice measures, and exceeds Building Regulation obligations by 25-30 per cent    
  • The project minimised its environmental impact by reusing and upgrading existing accommodation, and optimised the building’s passive environmental performance    
  • Location plan    
  • Ground floor and first floor plans    
  • Sections AA and BB    
  • South elevation    
  • West elevation    
  • Detail of frame    
  • Tile detail    
  • Window detail    

Dow Jones upgrades and expands a south London museum that encloses a deconsecrated church.

The project sees extensive augmentation and rationalisation of the museum’s front-of-house facilities – new galleries and display spaces, an archive, enlarged education spaces and café – as well as its back-of-house, including new offices. Alongside this there has been a thorough technical upgrading, including the introduction of underfloor heating. A series of three linked single-storey pavilions, clad in bronze tiles, wraps around a courtyard garden at the eastern end of the building, visible from the street through the layered glazed flanks of the new café.

The space provided by the extended mezzanine floor has enabled an increase in the number of permanent collection exhibits on display from 180 to 1,200. They leave the main body of the nave largely intact, respecting the essential architectural integrity of the church form and preserving a central space for larger lectures and workshop sessions. 

The church’s northern aisle, which previously contained the café, now houses a small shop and acts as a connecting point out to the new extension, as well as to the run of offices and service rooms, including new toilets, that occupy what was previously dead space between the north wall of the church and that of Lambeth Palace’s grounds. 

Three main spaces are arranged in pavilions: a larger education space for school groups to the north; the café connecting through to the street to the south; and the smaller education space at the south-east corner. Each is marked by a taller element acting as a light scoop to the interior, and provides quietly functional and calm environments, which can also be hired out for conferences and events.

The project minimised its environmental impact by reusing and upgrading existing accommodation, and optimised the building’s passive environmental performance. Low carbon and renewable technologies are used wherever possible
he project optimised its passive performance by configuring and orientating the building mass to use the shading from deciduous trees.

The project relies on natural ventilation, which is augmented by mechanical systems to address peak loads. The exhibition spaces that have air conditioning are super-insulated to minimise energy consumption.

The project reduced the carbon emissions of its active technologies by employing high-efficiency boilers to improve the heat generation by 26 per cent. Employing high-efficiency gas-fired calorifiers improved hot water generation by 29 per cent. The underfloor heating is zoned to provide heat to the occupied zones only, further reducing heating loads by 11 per cent. Destratification fans within the nave push heat back down from high level to further reduce the nave’s heat consumption by 6 per cent.


  • Begun: Nov 2015
  • Completed: May 2017
  • Floor area: 1,340m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £5M
  • Procurement: JCT standard form with contractor’s design portion
  • Address: Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7LB, United Kingdom

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