Watson's St Chapel, London

Designed by: Nikjoo
For client: Private Floor area: 170.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: 年度独户住宅

About the Project

Watson's St Chapel is a studio, gallery, and home in south London, for an artist and her family.

Formerly a Victorian chapel the building has been given new life and purpose after having fallen into disrepair following years of disuse. Nikjoo was tasked with breathing life back into the historic structure, transforming it into an adaptable, contemporary living and work space, that allows for flexibility of use and function for the creative client.

Stripped back to it original form, Nikjoo sought to reveal features and details that had been covered through years of piecemeal extensions and additions. Restored using a palette of rich yet simple materials, the new interventions interweave with the existing fabric of the building.

The plan takes inspiration from the original chapel layout. The nave contains the living and studio space, its height and scale left intentionally open to allow for adaption and personalisation throughout the lifetime of the building. The rear of the chapel has been entirely rebuilt in what was the vestry, to provide three new bedrooms and other facilities.

The key intervention is the insertion of a cantilevered mezzanine structure within the main space; imagined as a contemporary pulpit, it serves as the nucleus of the building. Built entirely of wood, it contains the kitchen and plant services at ground level, and provides a workspace with access to a new roof terrace above, creating a space to fosters the owner's life and work.

What’s unique about it

Watson’s St Chapel has been designed to restore, preserve and bring life back into a neglected historic building. Designed for maximum flexibility, the project fulfils the clients brief of creating an open, versatile space for both working and family life. In addition, the design allows the space to be adapted and repurposed throughout the lifespan of the owner and future occupiers.

This flexibility has been achieved through the main intervention. The cantilevered mezzanine conceals all mechanical and electrical plant, creating a central nucleus that frees up the external walls to be re-used and re-purposed as desired.

A fabric-first approach was taken for restoration to ensure the sustainability and longevity of the building. Existing features has have been retained and celebrated. The internal design responds to this by referencing the history and technology of the era, particularly the timber roof trusses, building upon it with contemporary timber materials and structural techniques.

The new angled window was instated to capture the morning sunlight, creating a bright space throughout the day for not only dramatic form but also maximum natural lighting, critical for the client’s work.

It was important for Nikjoo that the client, a wood carver and gilder, incorporated her artwork into the building to be a part of its ongoing story. The most notable impression is a gilded glass panel that was inserted as the kitchen splash back, a colourful stamp of the client.

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