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Purpose

Preliminary upper-rooms designs, c. March 1792 (2) seen jl

Signed and dated

  • Main Year: 0

Notes

In March 1792, Soane elaborated a scheme for placing a pair of upper rooms over the hall's east and west side-arms. The dated drawing is from 10 March (drawing 12). Whether or not Soane developed the upper-rooms scheme at the request of the Bank's directors is not know; it seems likely that he initiated such a change in the programme on his own.
The upper-storey rooms, measuring roughly 25 feet by 9 feet, may have been intended for the storage of ledgers used in the Bank Stock Office, or as private offices for the principal clerks (see drawing 66 where these private offices are placed in the hall's north end). Alternatively, the upper-rooms may have been intended for purposes disconnected from the space below; a distinct possibility considering the apparent absence of any stairs linking the hall's upper and lower levels.
As the various sections show, the upper-rooms would have received indirect light via seven-foot high segmental lunettes facing into the crossing beneath the hall's central lantern. Doors at the ends would lead into passages built over the hall's corner bays, lit by lunette windows looking over lowered roofs of the hall's north and south arms.
The addition of the upper-rooms and passages would not have added to the overall height of the renovated hall, but would have resulted in the lowering of the vaults over all four arms projecting out of the crossing. This would have limited the light coming into the hall from the clerestory lunettes, and would have substantially darkened the perimeter of the hall. This may be one reason the scheme was not pursued further. The upper-rooms scheme appears in any event not to have been a very serious effort.

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Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Preliminary upper-rooms designs, c. March 1792 (2) seen jl