Civic Trust Awards
Level of Award
Local Authority Area
Information about this scheme
Developed from the personal passion of curator and art collector, Jim Ede, Kettle’s Yard began life in 1957 when he opened his home every afternoon for people to see his collection of modern art.
In 1966, he gave the House and its contents to the University of Cambridge. The building has since evolved through a series of additions—most notably, in 1970, the gallery extension by architects Sir Leslie Martin and David Owers, a late modern masterpiece. For this project, a bold decision was taken to demolish everything from the 1970 extension to the retained Victorian façade on Castle Street in order to insert new contemporary galleries and greatly improved support services for visitors.
A new entrance and spacious welcome area offer clear access to all the different elements of Kettle’s Yard: the original House - a place where contemporary art, historic and natural objects sit comfortably within a modest domestic interior - and its 1970 extension, the new galleries, the new education wing, and the new shop and café. The new glass entrance area, framed in bronze, allows easy movement between the House and the new spaces.
Continuity is achieved by sensitivity to the domestic scale and calm aesthetic of the House and by repetition of the brickwork and simple volumes of rough plaster of the 1970 extension. The work has transformed the day-to-day function of Kettle’s Yard. The new galleries, education wing, shop and café are fully accessible. The galleries are light, clear volumes, with climate control and the ability to bear large-scale, heavy sculptures on the robust concrete floor, enabling curators to programme a broad range of contemporary art.
The new, fully accessible education wing enables Kettle’s Yard to comfortably accommodate an ambitious education programme for the first time, expanding learning space by almost 200 per cent. It incorporates a generous, double-height Clore Learning Studio at basement level, which looks directly onto Street, making visible this important aspect of Kettle’s Yard’s work. The new shop and café enhance the visitor experience as well as helping to safeguard the future of Kettle’s Yard.
Kettle’s Yard is now well equipped to serve the local people and visitors of Cambridge; it is a beautiful and well- functioning building, enabling access for a diverse audience to exhibitions, events, education, a café and shop.
Externally, the new street gallery and the window into the Clore Learning Space add greatly to the character of Castle Street, and are a visible expression of the culture and vitality of the city of Cambridge.
Jamie Fobert Architects
University of Cambridge
Primary Use Class
Class D1d - Display of Works of Art