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Kensington Picture House

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Gwyn and Kate ap Harri have transformed a derelict cinema into a beautiful 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 parking and hard standing where the boys could kick a ball against the brick wall. 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 I felt that it was important to refer to the history of the space within the design.

Near the house the design provides a wide terrace with white flags, giving the family plenty of space to entertain and relax; white rendered raised beds planted up with herbs screen the terrace from the Boy's Lawn and make a transition between house and garden. 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. Dense and colourful borders either side of the lawn will provide plenty of planting, and paths will lead through the trees to the hydropool, pool house and hard standing.

The design for the front garden is very 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... elegantly drawing the eye towards the house.

The house has 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 over the next few years.

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Click here to meet Gwyn and Kate ap Harri, and read about their experience.

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