Watts Gallery, Guildford, Surrey

The gallery displays the world’s biggest and most important collection of the paintings, drawings and sculptures of the Victorian artist George Frederic Watts (1817-1904). The Grade II* gallery was on the English Heritage At Risk Register. The Watts Gallery Trust was successful in winning a bid for HLF funding to conserve and extend this important privately owned gallery featuring the work of one artist.

Working closely with Architects ZMMA, CTP provided structural and civil design for the project.

The walls to the Isabelle Patino Gallery were leaning outwards raising the possible need for underpinning or rebuilding. By careful investigation, it was shown that spread of the roof was the cause of the movement. To avoid any change to the historic appearance of the gallery, strengthening included additional tie bars threaded through the existing tubular ties with concealed termination detail. This freed up a substantial part of the overall project budget previously allocated for underpinning that allowed other important work to advance.

Carefully detailed timber rooflights were provided to the main galleries allowing natural light to be the primary source of illumination. This is a distinctive feature of the gallery which has achieved government indemnity standards.

The Gallery was keen to display Watts’ monumental 4.0m high gesso grosso plaster ‘Physical Energy.’ The condition of the sculpture had to be assessed to confirm that it could be safely viewed. Working closely with the conservator, X-ray and endoscope investigation confirmed structural integrity. The sculpture was reinstated on the original rail tracks used by Watts to work in natural light. The gallery doors were supplemented by new 4.4m tall unframed glass doors allowing the sculpture to be viewed by visitors arriving.

Other works included an extension providing a new plant room together with a new sculpture and pottery studio, new lift to maintain accessibility and M&E services to maintain environmental control.

SuDS drainage was designed using permeable surface and soakaways.


Watts Gallery


Heritage & Conservation