The RHS thought there was no room to house the Lindley Library in their existing building and it would have to be moved out of London to the RHS gardens at Wisley in Surrey. The new masterplan demonstrated that by excavating the basement to a useable depth, extending out into the front area, re-planning and some rebuilding it was possible to house the Library and other pressing needs in their existing headquarters.
This extensive redevelopment of the Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) headquarters building in Vincent Square provides a new home for the Lindley Library, offices and an entirely remodelled conference hall facility. Listed and dating back to the 1900s, the existing building has been extended into hitherto unexploited basement areas and comprehensively refurbished to house the society's growth over the next 25 years.
The Lindley Library is one of the most important botanical reference libraries in the world and consists of over 50,000 volumes covering a wide range of subjects, including garden history, botany, flower arrangement, and botanical art. It is used by scholars from all over the world. It is also much used as a resource by the RHS's own garden writers, authors and members of the general public to whom it is open free.
The RHS thought that there was not room to house the Lindley Library in their existing building and it would have to be moved out of London to the RHS gardens at Wisley in Surrey. The new masterplan demonstrated that by excavating the basement to a useable depth, extending out into the front area, re-planning and some rebuilding it was possible to house the Library and other pressing needs in their existing headquarters.
The masterplan showed that it was unnecessary to move the Library and demonstrated that all the current needs of the RHS could be accommodated within the existing buildings by an ingenious redesign of space that would leave sufficient room to cover the RHS' future requirements. Leaving the library in London meant that it could continue to be of easy access to anyone by public transport and straightforward for foreign visitors and scholars to find.
From the ground floor library reception lobby, steps lead up to a grand public reading room with views over Vincent Square. A new glass and steel stair leads down to the lower reading rooms, which are naturally lit through large roof lights offering views up to the surrounding trees. The library is serviced with modern environmental control, including sophisticated fire and flood protection systems for the collection. The new basement also accommodates extensive archive space, conservation facilities and staff work areas.
New, simplified and distinct entrances are provided to both the society's new headquarters and the new conference facilities. The Old Hall has been transformed into a modern conference space. Behind the re-glazed facade of Elverton Street new office space was inserted within the vaulted trusses, above the entrance lobby and mezzanine cafe, over two floors behind an internal glazed screen that provides both an acoustic and a visual barrier to the hall but allowing natural daylight in. The top floor space vacated by the library and other existing rooms were carefully refurbished without destroying the original fabric of the building.
RIBA Conservation Review
Royal Horticultural Society: Linley Library Exhibition Hall
Lindley Library given more space to grow
Jane Owen - 28 Oct 02
More than room to read
Brent Elliot - 28 Oct 02
A sweet campaign blossoms
Jonathan Glancey - 19 July 95
A library of cultivation
Mary Keen - May 95
Royal Horticultural Society
Westminster, London, UK