Preparing for the year ahead: behind the scenes

As we wrote in our blog last week, August represents a change of pace for us. The Library has completed its annual ‘checking’ and inventory of 110,000(!) books and periodicals, as it prepares to re-open on Monday 29 August. August is also the time for Maintenance Officer Fulvio Astolfi to undertake any major renovation works needed for the recommencement of our events programme and the arrival of the new award-holders.

Last August, Fulvio’s attention was focused mainly on the Sustainable Building Project, which was successfully completed earlier this year .

This project was a large undertaking but is only the most recent of the makeovers that the building has gone through — since its beginnings as the British pavilion for the 1911 exposition in Rome — to become a residence fit for purpose for the hard creative work that we support.


The BSR as it stood over a century ago — as nothing more than a façade.

Along with these larger projects the BSR has always had a team of committed staff members to look after the building on a day to day basis. With the help of BSR Archivist Alessandra Giovenco we found this photograph (which some of you may recognise from the BSR’s One Hundred Years centenary volume) of Carpenter Pio Fiorini, Fulvio’s previous incarnation!


Pio Fiorini (left), joined the BSR on 10 March 1946. He is pictured with Giuseppe Fioranelli (right), who eventually took over Pio’s position following his retirement.

The picture shows the two outside on the tennis court, but the carpenter’s ‘office’ was the space underneath the front steps of our grand façade — since transformed into the Gallery during the building project of 2000.


From carpenter’s studio to exhibition space …. the Gallery under construction during the building works of 2000 that also saw the creation of the Sainsbury Lecture Theatre.

During the 2000 and 2015 building projects, the successors of Pio and Giuseppe, Maintenance Officer Fulvio Astolfi and Domestic Bursar Renato Parente have excelled in their commitment to to supporting the activity of our residence. Their tireless commitment to the Sustainable Building Project — and ongoing maintenance of the BSR building — has been immeasurable.

Fulvio Astolfi and Renato Parente during the building works of 2000. Photograph by Sarah Hyslop.


Renato and Fulvio in 2015 helping to prepare the Gallery for an exhibition. Photograph by Sophie Hay.

As we continue our work behind the scenes to prepare for the new academic year, we look forward to telling you about the work, ideas and discoveries, which the BSR will be home to in 2016-17.




If you would like to see more images from the Sustainable Building Project take a look at our blog celebrating its completion.

Images courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archives unless otherwise stated.

Our building transformed through the Sustainable Building Project

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It is with great satisfaction that the BSR can announce the completion of the Sustainable Building Project.  Several years of planning went into this project, and they have paid off; we have completed on time and under budget, and have even managed to include some additional works within the period.

The key aim was to provide a residence which was fit for purpose for its future, and we believe that the improvements have done just that.  As the Director’s Garden comes back to its former glory, we look forward to welcoming you back to the BSR.

This project would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors and donors and we gratefully acknowledge their help and generosity.

However, there are always new projects!  First, we were unable to include the refurbishment of the bedroom windows, and so we are now launching an appeal to address this.  Each window can be removed, retrofitted with double glazing and its shutters restored and repainted for £3000.  We already have three windows sponsored, and this is a brilliant opportunity to play your part in supporting the future of the BSR.  Every restored window will bear the name of its sponsor.  Please get in touch with Development Director Elizabeth Rabineau if you would like to know more.

Second, the Sustainable Building Project was just one part of our Second Century Campaign.  The first students entered the current BSR in 1916, and a century on the BSR has never looked better.  But it is essential that we find new support for the artists and scholars whose presence at the BSR is our key mission. So over the coming months, we will be rolling out a series of opportunities through which you can help the BSR to move confidently into its second century!

Christopher Smith (BSR Director)

Here is how the BSR looked roughly a century ago when the Residence was first being built (images courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive).


The project would not have been possible without the generosity of the following trusts and foundations, and we gratefully acknowledge their support:







and those private individuals who contributed towards the project.


Phase three of the Sustainable Building Project: studio renovations complete and work on the west wing begins

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We are now a little more than half-way through the Sustainable Building Project. In (sometimes literally) concrete terms, this means that the roof work on the east and north wings of the building is now complete, and the artists’ studios have new windows and skylights. Further good news is that new hot water heaters have been installed.

Below ground, work continues on remedying the 1960s Library basement, so our periodicals will also have a dry future.

The builders have already begun work on the west wing roof, so we are on track to have a watertight building by the end of the year. For all those former residents who have suffered the occasional leaky ceiling, cold shower or unheated room, this news should give great comfort.

Though not part of our Sustainable Building Project, we have been inspired to use this period of transition to complete two small but important projects. First, we have refurbished the Margary Room in Camerone (archaeology department), creating a new home for the Archaeology Archive and additional study space. Second, we have refreshed the BSR kitchen with new and energy-efficient equipment.