Transforming the British Academy

The British Academy has announced a major building programme to enable it to reach, nurture and connect more leading thinkers and curious minds than ever before in its 120-year history.

The project so far

The UK’s national Academy for the humanities and social sciences, established in 1902, will undertake a major re-design of its building in London led by Wright & Wright, an architecture firm specialising in educational and cultural institutions. The scheme will centre on the addition of the latest hybrid event technology, allowing an interested public throughout the world to connect with the work of the Academy.

Changing with the times

The £9.6 million development, aided by a lead £5 million grant from the Wolfson Foundation, will transform a warren of corridors and rooms in the Academy’s lower floors into three, double-height event spaces technologically equipped for conferences, lectures, workshops, festivals, and performances. This follows a significant uptake in online and hybrid events post-pandemic from the academic community and event-going public.

As specialists in reconciling historic buildings for the future age, Wright & Wright architects have designed an innovative plan that will provide contemporary spaces that complement the historic details in the rest of the Grade 1 listed building. Furthermore, with awards in sustainability and eco-conscious design, the firm have succeeded in providing the British Academy with a greener future. This includes air source heat pumps providing carbon-free heating and the building will be the first Grade 1 listed property in Westminster to be granted permission to install double glazing, allowing for better climate control, and all heating will be carbon-free.

A new home for SHAPE (the social sciences, humanities and arts for people and the economy)

Our aim is to reconfigure the lower floors of our historic building on Carlton House Terrace to create a vibrant new home for the humanities and social sciences where we will:

Built for technology, the new event spaces will help enable the Academy to broadcast its programming beyond London, across the UK, reaching an ever wider and more diverse audience.  The upgrade of the building will facilitate the wider transformation strategy for the Academy which will be published later this year.

These new spaces are at the very heart of this plan, and we need your help to ensure that we can carry off this project.

Event spaces

Support us

Help us make these grand houses into a true home for our disciplines.

We have now raised almost £7 million of the £9.6 million budget for the building work to make our vision a reality.

An appeal to the Fellows and Friends of the Academy will be announced in early 2023.

To support the project, please visit or get in touch with the Development Team at [email protected] to request more information about the project.

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