Artist Studio
Ladder House, Ely

This project involved the creation of an artist studio within the footprint of an existing flat roofed garage, adjacent one of the most interesting building in Ely. Located on the Ely waterfront, the main house used to accommodate the long ladders used to clean the copper vats in the adjacent brewery (since demolished to make way for housing).


Our clients are local artists who wanted to convert their existing flat roof garage adjoining the Ladder House in Ely into a studio. The space was to have plenty of light and incorporate storage for large canvases.

We saw this brief as an opportunity to improve the setting of this beautiful building.

Key Challenges and Successes

  • Successfully negotiated the height of the proposals with the Conservation Officer using photo montages to demonstrate the impact of the roof on the existing Ladder House and surroundings.
  • Negotiated working access through the public car park with Cambridge County Council.

  • Party wall agreement required with neighbouring property as proposals affected an old garden wall.

  • Sourced materials to blend with the existing house.


Procurement route

Traditional tender and JCT Minor works Contract

Service provided

Full service from Concept Designs through to administering the building contract and completion on site.

Design Process

The design concept was to work within the existing footprint of the garage, and develop a pitched roof solution which would create the necessary height to accommodate the large canvases used by our client.

Through careful collaboration with the local conservation officer, we arrived at a design which provided the height required, whilst not interfering with the views through to the Ladder House itself.

Using a palette of zinc and clay plain tiles, and second-hand bricks very close to the original, great effort was made to blend the new and existing, whilst retaining the sense that the conversion was a new but well considered contemporary addition.

We introduced a sink area into the artist space with a separate bathroom, leaving the remaining space as a studio, all located on the ground floor. The mezzanine level was provided as a useful storage space for large canvases.

This space was to be accessed by a ladder on rails that can slide along the open side to the mezzanine level.


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