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Thursday24 July 2014

FIRST LOOK

First look: Jamie Fobert plans gentle growth for Cambridge’s modest gallery

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Jamie Fobert Architects has won planning permission for its extension to Kettle’s Yard Gallery in Cambridge, a project originally won in competition in 2004.

The £2.1 million scheme follows a series of modifications to the original tumbledown cottages, in the grounds of the early Norman St Peter’s church. Remodelled in the fifties by owner Jim Ede, the house was extended with a gallery block in 1970 by Leslie Martin and David Owers.

The latest project will add key support spaces to the well-loved gallery, including a double-height education space, sunk to basement level, to house the institution’s extensive student, schools and community programmes.

A new café, which Fobert describes as a “lantern on the street”, sits above, while a seminar room for lectures, meetings and adult education will be housed in the volume of the pitched roof.

“It is all about being gentle and modest,” he says. “We have striven to create continuity with the existing gallery spaces.” Moving from the cottage, through the gallery, and into Fobert’s extension will be an imperceptible spatial sequence. “The ambition is for visitors to assume it has always been there,” says Fobert.

The new building completes the corner of the site and follows the material palette of the 1970 block, replicating the brickwork and simple volumes of rough plaster within. A large picture window at the back looks out on to the garden.

Described by Cambridge City Council’s Design & Conservation Panel as “fully in sympathy with the ethos and modest architecture of Kettle’s Yard”, the project will start on site this year, subject to funding.

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