Conservation United Kingdom

London Francophiles’ Art Deco home to be restored

The Institut Français du Royaume-Unis due to undergo a £1.5m overhaul

The first part of the three-phase project, estimated to cost £478,000, will restore the reading room’s original parquet flooring, stained glass windows and woodwork

The library of the Institut Français du Royaume-Unis, the French cultural institute in London, is undergoing a £1.5m overhaul, starting with the restoration of its Art Deco reading room. The project is led by the architectural firm Bisset Adams.

The library, known as La Médiathèque, contains the largest collection of French documents in the UK, with more than 55,000 items, and has a particular focus on the arts. It also holds rare books dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. It is housed in a grade II listed building in South Kensington that dates back to 1939 and was designed by Patrice Bonnet, the French architect and the winner of the Prix de Rome. The building boasts an intricate façade and a large marble staircase, while the library itself was originally intended as a ballroom.

The first part of the three-phase project, estimated to cost £478,000, will restore the room’s original parquet flooring, stained glass windows and woodwork, while installing up-to-date audiovisual equipment for future cultural events. After that, the basement will be renovated to create a children’s library and a “multimedia hub” built, to be used for cinema, music and education. The project is scheduled for completion in 2015.

The renovation has been funded mostly by private donors, but the institute and its friends group are still raising funds to reach the £1.5m target.


Institut Français du Royaume-Unis is housed in a grade II listed building in South Kensington designed by Patrice Bonnet and built in 1939
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