Charles Dickens’s former home at Grade I listed No. 48 Doughty Street and the adjoining Grade II listed No. 49 have been owned by The Dickens Trust since the early 20th century and have remained relatively unaltered.

We were initially commissioned to undertake a detailed historic appraisal of both properties and then appointed to enhance the museum’s operational and visitor attraction performance. Our conservation management plan provided a framework for the conservation and refurbishment of Dickens’s Victorian interiors, the repair of the fragile historic building fabric, and the contemporary conversion and extension of No 49.

Both houses have been carefully reordered to improve visitor circulation, accessibility, security and exhibition display. Significant internal architectural features have been carefully conserved in order to minimise major loss of the original fabric.

The contemporary steel-framed timber clad extension was designed and built to accommodate an existing café, new lift and additional facilities with minimum disturbance. Adopting a contemporary approach, it was designed to be visually distinct from the existing rear brickwork facades and successfully creates a structurally reversible, modern intervention.

The steel framed larch clad extension houses the new lift that extends to the upper linking lobbies and down to the basement space via historic vaulted wine cellars.

The newly presented internal spaces provides a richer education and experience into Dickens and the Victorian period.

Teaching space was created in the original basement kitchen of No. 49 with access to its counterpart in No. 48. New lateral connections at each level between the two properties facilitate step free visitor flow between floors.

Dickens’s historic literary house has been conserved and transformed beautifully to serve all its museum visitors through accessible engagement with the great storyteller’s life.