Plans unveiled for £400k expansion to Northampton's 'cultural cornerstone' to create modern tourist hotspot

The architects behind a plan to effectively double the room for visitors at Northampton's world-famous Mackintosh House have revealed the extent of what's to come.

Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 6:57 pm
A massive renovation has been proposed for 78-82 Derngate.

The landmark house at 78 Derngate - which is listed as the number one thing to do in Northampton on TripAdvisor - is set for a £400,000 extension to make room for "coachloads" of visitors and create a modern tourist spot for the town.

The extensive work includes extending the house by creating 25-metres-squared of new floorspace, a new mezzanine level and a new coffee room.

But the most drastic development will be the demolition of the existing floor-to-ceiling windows at the back of the house to create a four-metre high frameless glass conservatory.

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The new frameless glass conservatory means visitors will be able to look back on the house's iconic design in all weather.

Director Dominic Kramer said: "It's been an honour to work on these plans for 78 Derngate.

"It's been a challenge but I'm proud of how we've worked to preserve the heritage of the house and make space for visitors to appreciate it even more."

The 19th-century 78 Derngate is the only house in England remodelled by world-famous architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and has been called the "cornerstone" of Northampton's cultural quarter.

But while drawing up the renovation plans, Dominic says he saw how tight spaces were restricting how visitors could enjoy the house.

A new sitting area for visitors will be created to better serve customers at the coffee lounge.

Dominic said: "Despite how incredible the house is, guides have trouble taking more than seven or eight people around at a time. It's a lot of small rooms and corridors and it can be very disorienting.

"The top floor doesn't link up either, so you have to go back on yourself.

"Worst of all, currently if it's raining you don't get to go out to see the back of the house - which is the best bit."

Now, Morton Wykes Kramer has set out how it will create a new seating area behind the house and expand the visitor's centre to make the house fit for functions and events.

Morton Wykes Kramer hope to make the house large enough to comfortably accept 30 or more visitors.

Meanwhile, the frameless glass conservatory will extend beyond the house to create a space where visitors can look back on the 78 Derngate's iconic designs in any weather.

Other changes include new roof lights, a new space for reception and changes to improve the disabled access of the house and garden.

Dominic said: "Mackintosh's 'modern' style was modelled after designs he saw in Europe and was rarely seen at all in the UK at the time.

"Our work will mean 78 Derngate will be able to comfortably accommodate 30 or more people at a time with a pleasant place to sit and new ways to explore and enjoy the house."

"It's been an honour to work on 78 Derngate".

The plans have currently received a landslide 45 letters of support in a public consultation.

If approved, the renovation work could take up to eight months to complete.

It comes after the borough council pledged to contribute £200,000 towards the facelift in a bid to "breathe life" back into the high street in the face of a "diminishing" retail sector.

78 Derngate is listed as the number one thing to do in Northampton on TripAdvisor.