The Kensington Picture House, Thorne
Gwyn and Kate ap Harri have transformed a derelict cinema into a home which marries old and new. Their motivation for doing this was to have more space for their growing family... I was lucky enough to design their previous tiny garden in Thorne, Doncaster, and was lucky again when they asked me to design their new front and back gardens at The Kensington Picture House, Thorne.
Their Brief called for a big “Boys Lawn”, a good sized seating area near the house for relaxing and preparing food, and lots of wide borders for growing fruit, vegetables and colourful flowers. They had already planned for a hydropool and pool house in one corner of the garden, and needed some hard standing where the boys could kick a ball. The back garden is the old auditorium of the cinema. Gwyn and Kate had had the roof taken off this and old seats removed, so wanted to refer to the history of the space within the design.
Near the house the design provides a wide terrace and raised beds planted up with herbs screen the terrace from lawn. The lawn is at an angle to the house, making the whole feel more dynamic and drawing the eye toward the double screen of densely planted Birch trees (where the cinema screen once was). When the garden is finished spotlights will shine up onto the many white stems, giving a feeling of cinematic drama. A path through dense and colourful borders either side of the lawn will lead through the trees to the hydropool, pool house and hard standing.
The design for the front garden is simple, allowing the beautiful old cinema façade to sing: white gravel is broken up by two Betula jacquemontii (Himalayan Birch), and curving white rendered walls reflect the details on the building drawing the eye towards the house.
The project featured on Channel 4's Grand Designs and has been widely acclaimed in the architectural press.
So far the terrace and raised beds have been constructed, and Gwyn and Kate intend to develop the garden faithfully according to the design. And what did Gwyn and Kate have to say?: "Cheri, We love it!"