Whitecross Street

Extension and Renovation of a Ronnie Wood’s Former Painting Studio

Clerkenwell, London EC1

The renovation and extension of a Victorian industrial building to create a single-family residence above an existing art gallery, on one of central-east London’s busy street markets.

Research suggests the building was originally built as a garment factory. When purchased by our client in 2011, the ground and basement floors were being used as an art gallery, which remains. The three storeys above were previously used by Rolling Stones guitarist, Ronnie Wood, as his painting studio. The top floor was a modern (1980s) extension of quite poor quality. With the flat also came a lapsed planning consent for a new top floor, consented in 2008 but never executed.


There were two main objectives of the design: 1) replace the existing 1980s top floor extension with something better than the previously consented design, and 2) reorganize the internal layout to be more useful and efficient.

The owners, a young couple, were shooting the moon. They’d put all they had into buying the building and were scraping together pennies to fund the renovation. They eventually had to sell their car to make the final payment to the builders.

Nic insisted he wanted a city home where he could walk to work. Tiffany wanted the same, but also wanted a garden. Neither of them wanted what they called “one of those damp little houses” – referring to surrounding little Georgian terraces of near east London. They both wanted something special, that they could grow into and stay in forever.

The building is quietly urban. Its shape and mass define the corner of Whitecross and Banner Streets. Its anonymity is an essential part of being urban: being a good neighbour, being private.

By inserting a spiralling stair to connect all three floors we managed to make sense of the plan, and create the extra space needed to cram in a 3rd bedroom and a second bathroom.

The stair is open at all landings, necessitating a discreetly integrated sprinkler system.

We reconfigured the plan and put the more private spaces (bedrooms, bathroom, utility, storage) on the lower first floor. Windows were upgraded to triple glazing to keep the noise of the market out.

The main floor, formerly Ronnie’s studio, was kept mostly as it was: one big space, with big east and north facing windows and paint blobs on the floor. The brick walls and timber ceiling were stripped back and sealed.

The top floor extension was reduced in size from the previous design, to maintain the existing sheltered terrace, connected to the kitchen by a 7.5m, east-facing sliding glass wall. The kitchen and its terrace are both bathed in morning light.

Above the kitchen we made our urban meadow, complete with shed and BBQ. It is a 5m x 7m pasture of artificial turf, surrounded by a near invisible glass handrail; a patch of bright green surrounded by the grey roofs of east London, illuminated at night by the towers of the Barbican.

Total project cost: £350,000 inc.VAT and professional fees.



Houzz UK feature article on Whitecross Street: “Ronnie Wood’s Old Art Studio Gets a Rock n’ Roll Makeover”

Structural Engineer
QED Structures Ltd

Main Contractor
Bondsbury Construction

Building Control 
Quadrant AI

Fire Safety Consultants

Glazing Contractor
Maxlight Ltd

James Balston

During Construction