According to English Heritage (which oversees historic buildings for the British government), Woodchester House, a Georgian mansion built in 1746 and located on 30 acres of Gloucestershire countryside, is architecturally untouchable and unchangeable. For both the architect, London- and Paris-based Robert Grace, and the client, a financier and author, that was a problem.

Granted, the mansion and its grounds and garden—where the owner’s wallabies frolic— are breathtaking. But the link, visual or physical, between the house and the landscape was lacking. After months of discussion, Grace and the owner decided that a 1,500-square-foot glass, wood, and concrete “orangery,” or garden room, would solve the problem. It provides a place of contemplation and repose adjacent to, but never touching, the house. “It is shelter,” says Grace, “but you can look out at the garden or at the back at the house and feel linked to both.”

The new 18-foot-high structure may relate to the house functionally, but hardly stylistically. “It’s totally of the ‘now,’” says Grace. Two slender reinforced concrete columns support a concrete roof, while expanses of glass diminish the sense of mass. Triple-glazed units enclosing the space are almost nonexistent, especially where they meet at a corner facing the garden: With a push of a button they glide back on an invisible motorized track. Oak plank floors unite the various parts of the retreat, which includes an entry, bathroom, laundry, and living area with a fireplace carved in a stone wall.

A 41-foot gallery links the garden pavilion to an existing outbuilding, used as a kitchen and dining room, that adjoins the main house. To create the linear gallery, Grace placed sections of an old stone garden wall, once part of the house’s former orangery, parallel to each other and clad the interiors with white concrete. He then covered the hallway with a glass roof resting on glass beams that in turn hook into the concrete columns.

Grace and his client have collaborated on about 10 projects together, including two homes in London and an office. The close relationship meant the architect had no qualms about giving his client a Royal Institute of British Architects design award he won for the project in 2011. It is now displayed in the orangery, reminding all visitors that design can bring history forward.


Client: undisclosed

Design Architect
Robert Grace
Linus Gruszewski
Sarah de Teliga
Robert Grace Architecture
Paris / London
+447909 715 910

Project Architect/ Architect of record
Studio RAN
Tony Loizou

Richard HInd
Patrick Cusack

Tony Loizou
2nd Floor Studio
49 Brooke Road
London N16 7RA
020 8806 6558
07957 356 261

Structural engineer
Andy Illsley

Hazel Gillet

Form SD
Structural Design
First Floor
82 Clerkenwell Road
020 8806 6558
07957 356 261

Glazing Engineer
Philip Wilson

Gennady Vasilchenko
Malishev Wilson
49 Kinsway Place, Sans Walk, London EC1R 0LU
Mobile: +447971 532 989
Work: +4420 7970 6020

Main contractor
Chris Walker
Parr Walker & Associates
Easter Park
Stonehouse, Gloucestershire
GL10 3UL
Mobile: 07973 671 944
Work: 01453 860 200

Glazing contractor
John Hodgson
mark Leddra
Ken Anderson

F.A.Firman (Harold Wood) Ltd
19 Bates Road
Harold Wood
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44(0)1708 374534
Fax: +44(0)1708 340511

Jesper Ray
and Mel Yates



Exterior Cladding:
Reinforced Concrete internal walls

Cotswold stone external clad walls

York stone external paving

Glass Roof and roof structure

Reinforced Concrete structure for Garden room

Aluminium rain screen for the roof of the Garden Room

Integrated structurally framed vertical Glazing panels

Interior Finishes:
Dinesen Oak Floors