A Neglected Chapel Is Reborn as an Artist's Live/Work Space

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By Jennifer Baum Lagdameo
After a thoughtful restoration, a former chapel in South London embraces a new calling as a vibrant, contemporary space for a local artist.

When London architect Alex Nikjoo, of the UK–based firm NIKJOO, was tasked with repurposing an old Victorian chapel that had fallen into disrepair, he immediately became inspired by the historic structure. 

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Taking cue from the original form of the chapel, NIKJOO's transformation brings new life and purpose to the building, while still respecting its remarkable past.

Taking cue from the original form of the chapel, NIKJOO's transformation brings new life and purpose to the building, while still respecting its remarkable past.

With the help of his talented team, Nikjoo stripped the building down to its original form and carefully injected a rich, yet minimalist material palette into the volume's existing fabric. 

The renovation features a pulpit-like mezzanine that overlooks the main living space. This new cantilevered structure creates a focused central nucleus for the home. 

The renovation features a pulpit-like mezzanine that overlooks the main living space. This new cantilevered structure creates a focused central nucleus for the home. 

By transforming the former vestry in the rear of the chapel into three new bedrooms, and constructing a new cantilevered mezzanine into the main space, the structure now breathes new life as a contemporary studio space, gallery, and family home for an artist. Keep scrolling to take a peek inside.

Containing the kitchen, office, library, and plant room, much of the interiors can be seen as a form of a pulpit, a place to foster the owner’s life and work. A birch plywood skin wraps the mezzanine structure. 

Containing the kitchen, office, library, and plant room, much of the interiors can be seen as a form of a pulpit, a place to foster the owner’s life and work. A birch plywood skin wraps the mezzanine structure. 

The simple material palette adds a textural richness to the space, balancing the updates against the simplicity of the original building. A bespoke gate further customizes the design. 

The simple material palette adds a textural richness to the space, balancing the updates against the simplicity of the original building. A bespoke gate further customizes the design. 

The nave contains the living and studio space. Taking full advantage of the height and scale of the original structure, the main area allows for adaptation over the lifetime of the building.

The nave contains the living and studio space. Taking full advantage of the height and scale of the original structure, the main area allows for adaptation over the lifetime of the building.

The material palette of oak, birch plywood, and oiled pine—combined with the polished concrete floor—add a textural richness to the space. 

The material palette of oak, birch plywood, and oiled pine—combined with the polished concrete floor—add a textural richness to the space. 

Discrete customized storage has been added throughout. 

Discrete customized storage has been added throughout. 

The staircase ascents to the bright and spacious upper level, which features high-vaulted ceilings. 

The staircase ascents to the bright and spacious upper level, which features high-vaulted ceilings. 

A large arched window within the rear facade opens out from the mezzanine to the new outdoor terrace, capturing sunlight throughout the day.

A large arched window within the rear facade opens out from the mezzanine to the new outdoor terrace, capturing sunlight throughout the day.

Splashes of color are interwoven into the original fabric of the structure, which reflects the creativity of the client. 

Splashes of color are interwoven into the original fabric of the structure, which reflects the creativity of the client. 

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: NIKJOO, Alex Nikjoo 

Main contractor: Tully Construction 

Structural engineer: Constant SD

Lighting Design: NIKJOO

Interior Design: NIKJOO


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