City of London, UK

The Royal Exchange

The Royal Exchange is a Grade 1 Listed building and is one of the City of London’s most prominent and recognisable buildings, located next to the Bank of England. We have been architects for the building for successive owners for over 40 years

Project Details

  • Location London
  • Type Heritage, Refurbishment
  • Sector Offices, Retail
  • Client Oxford Properties
  • Services Architecture
Aerial view showing the additional two floors and new roof over the courtyard

Restoration of the building 1984 - 1992

Our involvement started with the restoration of the whole building, including a sensitive two floor office extension and replacement roof above the courtyard, and refurbishment of a suite of Listed rooms at first floor.

Two new floors and new roof above existing
Sculptor Mel Morris Jones working on one of the new Corinthian capitals for the courtyard

 After close consultation with English Heritage, the Royal Fine Arts Commission and the City Corporation, we extended the building by two floors, adding a classical Corinthian order above the existing Doric and Ionic orders; an apparently single stratum behind which are two floors of office space.

Externally they are rendered as an attic storey, set back and clad in Portland stone, which we also used to create hand carved column capitals, cartouche panels, swags and architraves with the existing stonework carefully cleaned and repaired as needed.

A new glazed and panelled, shallow barrel vaulted roof was installed over the courtyard to replace the existing roof which had fallen into disrepair.

The restored Courtroom, one of the Listed rooms on the first floor

Two suites of Listed retained rooms at first floor were reordered and restored with advice from the Victoria & Albert Museum, and provided with new concealed services for use as meeting and entertaining rooms to make them suitable for 20th century requirements.

The Royal Exchange restoration was opened by HM the Queen in 1991 and was joint winner of the City Heritage Award for Building Conservation in 1992.

Our work continues with the creation of a new retail strategy and its ongoing implementation

Reopening of the courtyard as a public space

The courtyard was reinstated as a public space, as it was at the building’s inception in 1844, when we added new retail units in the early 2000s.

They are now occupied by some of the world’s most well known luxury brand names and sit within the existing colonnade, with a mezzanine floor inserted above, inside the arches. 

The four quadrants of the ambulatory are separated by the main cardinal entrances.

A new F&B and retail outlet for Fortnum & Mason has now been installed and opened, occupying one quadrant of the retail space.

An island bar designed by Universal Design Studio for them, with an elegant tracery canopy, sits in the centre of the iconic covered courtyard. 

We have also redesigned the courtyard stairs to improve public access to the mezzanine level to encourage visitors to go up and view the Exchange’s historic murals on the rear wall of the original ambulatory.

The stairs are designed as a sculptural transition to the upper level, using stone sympathetic to the existing material palette and delicate balustrades.

With this new project we continue our relationship with one of the City’s most spectacular buildings and internal courtyards, now working with Oxford Properties, and we are proud to be part of the Exchange’s evolution

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