A major refurbishment and internal remodel of the Royal Academy of Arts was undertaken during 2017-2018. The objective was to carry out the structural alterations required to create a new four storey state-of-the-art lecture theatre, within the existing building.

Cousins Ltd was retained by Sisk, with whom the company has a long-standing relationship, to deliver the decoration works to both new and existing surfaces. Many areas within the building were classed as ‘heritage’, and due to the highly specialist skills required, this element was separately procured, and awarded to Cousins Group company Campbell Smith & Co Ltd who have a track record of fine decoration dating from 1873.


Royal Academy of Arts

David Chipperfield Architect

Piccadilly, London


March 2018

Project tasks and challenges

The Senate Room is particularly ornate, and the existing decoration scheme required extensive conservation including cleaning and repair. Precise colour matching at site by skilled conservators was a distinct challenge. Materials were also selected for compatibility with existing finishes, and durability in a demanding environment.

This was anything but a run-of-the-mill refurbishment project.

Project results

This complex project was completed in phases to maintain a safe working environment both for the public & visitors, and for Royal Academy of Arts staff who remained in occupation during the building works.

The programme was successfully compressed in the later stages to accommodate a visit by Her Majesty the Queen, a few days before the refurbished building was revealed to the press and the general public.