Walking the edge of Norwich’s leafy Golden Triangle you might glimpse, propped atop a brick garden wall, a ribbon of white wooden windows that light the studio of illustrator and educator Peter Nencini. Having first approached the architect Thom Brisco at the end of 2016, Peter and his partner, the designer-maker Sally Nencini, proposed a reworking of their home to form new spaces for making, cooking, and eating. Peter had first come across the architect’s work a couple of years previously, when staging an illustration workshop at an exhibition space designed and built by Thom for just £500. To entrust their project to a young architect based on such a small example of work is characteristic of the client’s nurturing and generous nature.
The house was built on Mount Pleasant in the 1860s, eventually forming part of the city’s Newmarket Road Conservation Area, with its local listing noting its street-fronting façade of Suffolk White bricks and the contrasting Norfolk Reds of its side and rear elevations. Throughout the twentieth century, a two-storey side-wing gathered garage and kitchen extensions with adjoining pantry and utility rooms but arriving in 2013, with the kitchen a centre of their family life, the Nencini’s found the space landlocked beyond reach of the beautiful gardens once cultivated by the plant geneticist who lived there before them. At the same time the garage was suffering from subsidence and large cracks reached through its roof and façade. With growing children and two artists producing work within the house, the family recognised the potential for this cluster of tight cellular spaces to provide a new art studio and kitchen-dining space.
With the main contract works accomplished by the summer of 2019, the completed project comprises 20 sqm of new construction alongside a refurbishment of a further 45 sqm of existing space. With the demolition, build, and fit-out costs settling at approximately £95,000 (incl VAT), the project was delivered for less than £1500/sqm.