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Kettle's Yard, Cambridge by Jamie Fobert Architects

Following various additions and extensions to the original house, Jamie Fobert Architects’ revision of Kettle’s Yard’s accretions opens it to the street and to the public

Following a number of additions since Leslie Martin and David Owers’ extension in 1970, Jamie Fobert Architects’ (JFA) plans swept away the accreted buildings between the extension and the Victorian facade on Castle Street, including reconfigurations by Martin in the ’80s and further changes in 1994. Occupying this facade, the gallery on the street is lit by a single large window (perfect for transporting monumental artworks in and out), while the second gallery is entirely top-lit, a nod to Martin and Owers’ design – ‘the starting point for all of this work was my admiration for the 1970 extension’, Fobert admits. JFA’s proposals revealed and repurposed some of the original brick galleries which had been cluttered and neglected while used as education rooms and rarely seen by the public. The sculptural brick bench, now stretching from the reception through to the large shop, had been rebuilt after it was replaced by a timber bench, and the plasterboard has been ripped away to expose the brick walls. The new café (its first) inhabits what was previously tucked away as staff offices, and a new double-height learning studio sits on the street. The gentle meander around the house remains unaltered since 1958, when Jim Ede first welcomed students inside – even if the ticketing system is slightly more advanced. The changes will allow many more people to experience the special beauty of Kettle’s Yard – for those who remember its previous, endearingly small operation, perhaps the new crowds are unwelcome. But the secret is out and the experience should be shared, unselfishly, as Jim Ede first envisioned in 1958.

Kettles yard cambridge jamie fobert architects

Kettles yard cambridge jamie fobert architects

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This piece is featured in the AR December 2019/January 2020 issue on New into Old and Preservation – click here to buy your copy today