Watson’s St Chapel by NIKJOO

A neglected early Victorian chapel in Deptford has been given new life and purpose as a personalised studio space, gallery and family home for an artist.

The chapel had fallen into disrepair after years of disuse, and was being used as a temporary studio space before NIKJOO was tasked with breathing life back into the historic building. The chapel has been transformed into an adaptable, contemporary living and work space, that inspires and complements the artist’s creative life.

The building was stripped back to its original form revealing 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 spaces. Taking advantage of the height and scale of the structure this main space has been intentionally left open to allow for adaptation 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.

Within the main space, a new cantilevered mezzanine structure built completely of timber creates a nucleus for the building. Containing the kitchen, office, library and plant room, the structure can be seen as a form of pulpit, a place to foster the owner’s life and work.

A birch plywood skin wraps the mezzanine structure linking the spaces and functions together. Oak fins dissect this skin, adding a material richness whilst allowing light to penetrate through the structure and create rhythmic shadows within building.

A large arched window was added to the rear facade that opens from the mezzanine to the new outdoor terrace and, along with several new rooflights, captures sunlight throughout the day to create an ever-changing atmosphere and experience within the main space.

The material palette of oak, birch plywood, oiled pine and stone add a textural richness to the space which balance the interventions against the simplicity of the original building. A natural polished concrete floor bind the materials and spaces together. Splashes of colour feature within the details of the building, complimenting and reflecting the creativity of the client.