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Studio Nencini, Norwich

Walking the edge of the city’s Golden Triangle you might glimpse, propped atop a brick garden wall, a ribbon of white wooden windows that light the studio of illustrator and educator Peter Nencini. Having first approached Thom Brisco at the end of 2016, Peter and his partner, the designer-maker Sally Nencini, proposed a reworking of their 1860s-built home to form new spaces for making, cooking, and eating.

The proposal springs from an appreciation of the area’s pattern of enclosure that twins open driveways at the front with tall-walled gardens to the rear. With an aim to strengthen this character, an ailing garage has been replaced by a studio with its front elevation realigned to complete the plot’s Victorian brick walling.

The front face of the garden wall is built in reclaimed Suffolk White brick whilst the studio’s side elevation and the wall’s rear face use a reclaimed Norfolk Red. The clearance of a series of internal walls and partitions creates an open link between the new studio and an enlarged kitchen but the retention of a small utility room alongside the fabrication of a compact wooden staircase acts to compress this connection ensuring each may feel occupied with a degree of independence. New openings formed in the rear façade and flank wall offer long views through the house to the gardens.

The ceiling is conceived as a collage of old and new timbers, a continuous realm of wood that becomes roof, platform, lining, and mullion, reaching the street-facing façade to rest atop the garden wall whilst permitting the stable north light the studio requires. The kitchen cabinetry is conceived as an autonomous figure come to nestle at the heart of this family home whilst the studio is readied for new illustration, collage, and ceramic works.

Studio Nencini won an ‘RIBA East Award 2022’ with Thom Brisco winning the ‘RIBA East Project Architect of the Year Award 2022’.