Owers Warwick Architects were commissioned to design a mixed-use scheme in Chapel Street, Chesterton that will not only create a sustainable and inspiring new environment for the existing nursery, but also provide thirteen apartments through the adaptive reuse and extension of the chapel.
The project offers an excellent opportunity to enhance the environmental performance and architectural significance of a valuable heritage asset, whilst also providing high-quality, low-energy housing and nursery accommodation. The residential and nursery components of the scheme take slightly different approaches to suit their usage. In both cases the aim is consistent; reduce energy demand and positively support the decarbonisation of the built environment to overcome the challenges posed by the existing building, which is no longer fit for its current use.
The nursery, conceived as a multi-level “house” entered off Chapel Street, occupies four floors at the front of the building. A new pitched roof, raised above the existing brick façade, helps to re-establish the building’s prominence in the street, as well as provide access to a large outdoor teaching space on the roof. An air source heat pump in the nursery reduces the electricity used to provide heat.
Thirteen apartments are provided partly within the structure of the chapel, as well as within a new top floor and a four-storey extension to the west end of the building. Access to apartments is from a new path to the north, which provides entry to ground floor units and to upper floors via a pair of communal staircases. All the apartments are dual aspect and designed with high levels of insulation and a passive approach to overheating mitigation. MVHR within the dwellings reduces heat loads further. A flat roof above the apartments combines planting and PV cells.
The design seeks to provide a confident piece of architecture that enhances the existing building and provides a sympathetic contrast through the use of light-weight materials and complimentary colours. The overall composition balances the strong vertical rhythm of existing windows and new cladding panels, with the calming horizontal lines of the new floor plates and roof.