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FIRST LOOK

NIKJOO transforms disused Deptford chapel into home and artist’s studio

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The early Victorian structure now houses three bedrooms and living spaces

Having fallen into disrepair after years of standing empty, the chapel was being used by NIKJOO as a temporary studio space, until the firm was commissioned by an artist to renovate and adapt it into a studio, gallery and home.

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 simple materials, the new interventions have been designed to complement the existing fabric of the building.

Watson s Street   Ground Floor Plan

Watson s Street Ground Floor Plan

Source: NIKJOO

Ground floor plan

The plan draws on the original chapel layout: the nave contains the living and studio spaces, and what was once the vestry has been rebuilt to house three bedrooms and other facilities.

Within the main space, a cantilevered, timber mezzanine structure creates a large ‘pulpit’, containing the kitchen, office, library and plant room, wrapped by a birch plywood skin and an oak-fin balustrade.

A large arched window on the rear facade opens from the mezzanine to a terrace and, along with several rooflights, draws natural light into the main space.

20WatsonsStreet 053

20WatsonsStreet 053

Architect’s view

Watson’s St Chapel is a studio, gallery and home for an artist and her family. The brief was to bring fresh life to the dilapidated building and create a home that allowed for flexibility of use and function, encompassing all aspects of their life.

The existing chapel has been delicately restored and updated to contemporary standards. The main chapel hall maintains its scale and volume with a mezzanine being the only addition within the space. The rear annex buildings were stripped back to their shell and now provide the bedroom and bathroom accommodation.

The key intervention is the inclusion of a cantilevered mezzanine structure within the main hall. The cantilevered structure was imagined as a contemporary pulpit. Built entirely of timber, the structure contains the kitchen and services at ground level, and it provides a studio space and access to a new roof terrace above.

A material palette of oak, pine and birch plywood was selected to allow the interior to be a backdrop and adapt to the constantly evolving works of art that will be created within the space.

Alex Nikjoo, founder, NIKJOO

Project data

Start on site August 2017
Completion May 2018
Gross internal floor area 170m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 190m²
Form of contract or procurement route JCT Minor Works
Construction cost Private
Architect NIKJOO
Structural engineer Constant SD 
Approved building inspector London Building Control 
Main contractor Tully Construction 
CAD software used AutoCAD

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Does the architect's view that the chapel has been 'delicately restored' include the application of what appears to be sooty black finish to all of the street elevation - bar the brick arch over the doorway.
    No 'before' photo, AJ, so who knows? I wonder what the neighbours think?

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