The Tulip Stairs and lantern at the Queen's House in Greenwich by Inigo Jones.

General overview

Access works at Queen’s House have set a standard. English Heritage has dubbed the project “exemplary”. The decision to retain an accessible “entry for all” played a determining role for the entire renovation project.

Principal access interventions :

  1. Understanding the history of the site
  2. Re-purposing interior spaces around the new visitor entry
  3. Access in the surroundings of Queen’s House

Location :

Greenwich, London

Description :

Queen’s House is an ancient countryside residence of the England’s royal family. It is part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, which comprises the historic town centre, Royal Park and related institutional buildings, such as the Royal Observatory and the National Maritime Museum.

Illustrated case-study :

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Heritage significance and attractiveness

  • classed a Grade 1 listed building (of exceptional interest) in its entirety by English Heritage
  • classed a World Heritage site by UNESCO
  • first neo-classical Renaissance building in England. Highly influential, it is based on a thorough study of Renaissance architecture (unlike the earlier Jacobean Renaissance style).
  • the Tulip Stairs at Queen’s House are a rare architectural gem

Access challenges

  • there are stairs at almost all entries and to the high ground floor

Vue du bâtiment à l'origineVue du Tulip Stair, élément architectural préservé


  • access was integral to the project from the beginning
  • a distinction made between unalterable features (such as the Tulip Stairs) and more recent, alterable additions
  • consultation took place at every stage of the project


A new entry for all

  • giving the service entry which is level, situated on a secondary facade, a new use
  • alteration of the visitor pathway and the internal organisation of the building
  • installation of a lift which provides access to all floors

Plans de l'ancien et du nouveau sous-sol

Re-organisation of the surroundings

  • staff car park with places earmarked for disabled visitors
  • drop-off point in front of the main facade
  • public transport from London : tube, bus, train
  • pathway with firm non-slip gravel surface (well integrated into its environment)

Commitment to heritage

  • the Tulip Stairs are to be preserved
  • addition of two steps on either side of the horseshoe stairs cut in a style easy to distinguish from the original stairs

Vue du Tulip Stair, élément architectural préservéEscaliers à l'entrée

Players and processes


  • Client : National Maritime Museum
  • Project manager : Allies and Morrison and David Bonnett Associates
  • Experts : Marine Semichon and David Bonnett,  David Bonnett Associates


The access works involved regular consultation between a range of players :

  • the National Maritime Museum represented by its Access Officer
  • architect firms Allies and Morrison and David Bonnett Associates
  • Greenwich local authority
  • English Heritage
  • professionals and users

Pictures and maps