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“78 Derngate” Northampton

June 10, 2024

78 Derngate Visitor Centre

78 Derngate, a Grade II listed building within the Derngate conservation area of Northampton, is renowned as the former home of Wynne Bassett-Lowke and was masterfully remodeled by the famous Scottish architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.Now open year-round, it stands as a testament to architectural innovation and historical significance.

A New Era of Visitor Experience The 78 Derngate Trust, formed to manage the house following its restoration in 2000, offers guided tours, cultural events, and exhibitions. Due to the popularity of these activities, the original visitor center soon proved inadequate. In 2018, the Trust appointed MWK Architects to design a new, bespoke visitor center. The New Visitor Centre The new Visitor Centre is a fully glazed extension, often referred to as a “glass box,” that powerfully contrasts with the historic Charles Rennie Mackintosh House. Elevated above landscaped gardens, the center can accommodate up to 80 visitors, providing them with stunning views and refreshments as they await guided tours of 78 Derngate.

The double-height space and mezzanine connect all first-floor galleries, offering panoramic views of the Derngate gardens and Becket’s Park beyond. Additionally, the visitor center serves as a versatile venue for hosting various cultural events. Historical Significance Situated in Northampton’s Cultural Quarter, 78 Derngate is an early 19th-century stucco-fronted, three-storey house of significant group value (Grade II GV).

The property features a two-storey side bay with second-floor ironwork to the balcony and forms part of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh House and Galleries, alongside 80 and 82 Derngate. Remodeled internally in 1916 by Mackintosh with a new back elevation in an early modernistic style for W.J. Bassett-Lowke, House 78 is a gem of architectural design. Restoration and Facilities The Trust was granted full planning permission and listed building consents for restoration and conversion in 2000.

The building now includes a reception area, video room, shop, restaurant, two galleries, office, meeting rooms, and cloakrooms across three floors and a basement. Extension Plans The new extension reaches to the garden level and aligns with the rear wall of 82 Derngate. This double-height extension enabled the creation of a mezzanine area at the first-floor level, accessible from the gallery. MWK Architects extended the first floor towards the southeast, offering panoramic views of the rear landscape. The extension also created a dramatic double-height void in the ground-floor reception area, which doubles as a souvenir shop. Relocation and Redesign The new extension allowed the shop to relocate from its current room, which then became the management office.

The reception now includes a new desk and the shop area, which was designed as a flexible space that can accommodate meetings of up to 50 people. Disabled access by wheelchair is now addressed between 82 and the threshold of 80, with a platform lift to solve the level difference between the reception and the main lift. Lighting and Heating New lighting, designed for display purposes, was installed in the extension. The solar gain was also carefully considered in the design. Additional Features A new cellar was created below the atrium extension for storage, adding to the functionality and practicality of the visitor center.

78 Derngate Visitor Centre stands as a perfect blend of historical charm and modern convenience, offering an enhanced experience for all who visit this architectural landmark.

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