Amici & Bici, probably Sheffield’s best Italian cafe and restaurant, needed room to expand so they asked us to provide the building extension plans and architectural drawings for their café expansion project. This began when a current client returned to us from a previous successful house extension design in Sheffield. They came back to us for a more ambitious project this time round, being a commercial architectural design expansion of their well-known café on Abbeydale Road, Sheffield. You can click this text to see the portfolio case study for the Amici and Bici café extension.
Amici & Bici planned to expand at their existing site, which is situated in a commercial building that had a previous single storey extension. In recent years the café has enjoyed growing popularity and often struggles to fit in as many diners as need to be accommodated. Being at full capacity the decision was taken to extend further with a project to adapt the property using a double storey extension, with plans for a café and casual dining area downstairs and a restaurant upstairs.
However this two storey extension project posed significant challenges that the Ecclesall Design team needed to overcome. It is quite probable that the previous single storey extension would not have received planning permission if it had been applied for today because of the nature of the architectural design of the existing extension and its effect on the nearby Nether Edge Conservation Area. Due to these restraints, we knew that the idea to further extend the building made for a challenging project for our design team.
Amongst the main factors shaping the direction of the design is the presence of the Abbeydale Road shopping area, which is one of Sheffield’s most important and active commercial hubs, as well as being a main road linking the city centre with key suburbs to the west of the city. As a result, this location enjoys high prominence and volumes of traffic. A second factor guiding the project was the close proximity of the Nether Edge Conservation Area which borders the Abbeydale Road shopping area around the location of the project site.
The primary challenge of the design of this architectural project was to create something that would be sympathetic to the conversation area as well as allowing for a modern and functional commercial property extension to sit in the key Abbeydale Road shopping street. We took the decision that the building should be designed to have contrasting front and rear architectural features. The corner position of the building – located on a crossroad – created both an opportunity and a challenge, as we needed to address the two contrasting factors that form a set of different criteria for the potential development of the project site.
To meet this challenge, we investigated and researched the architectural design patterns that formed the character of Chippinghouse Road and the Nether Edge Conservation Area. This research allowed us to pinpoint the key architectural features which would allow the new architecture to both relate to and complement the nearby distinctive historical character of area.
After carefully deliberating we defined the key solutions for this unique challenge, including the use of high quality materials such as natural stone, powder coated aluminium glazing, a specifically proportioned set of openings facing the conservation area side and prominent gables which were used as key architectural features in the building extension design. We adopted these solutions at the side of the proposed extension facing the Conversation Area, so that the new structure would blend in and not distract from the qualities of the existing surrounding historical architecture. This produced the subservient architectural design which blended in well along the street leading to the surrounding historical houses.
In contrast, when viewed from the front and crossroad side of the extension adjacent to Abbeydale Road, more modern architectural features were employed, such as corner glazing feature walls with modern shop signage and unique artwork in the form of a steel bicycle on a feature wall; this in turn emphasised the commercial nature of the building.
In order to extend the building further our project involved a compromise to replace the existing extension with a new structure that would be a more sympathetic and thoughtful design that would be less detrimental to the nearby conservation area. In return for being allowed to extend upwards to produce a dual storey building extension, it was agreed that it would be constructed on top of the unchanged footprint of the existing extension.
As a result an existing single storey extension was replaced with a double storey extension but using a more thoughtfully designed structure, that both recognises the commercial nature of the building and the nearby presence of the Conversation Area. Our new design of course complies with building regulations relevant to both commercial buildings and to cafés and restaurants, such as ensuring the provision of fire escapes and safety features as well as addressing planning guidelines overseeing the process of building extensions in a sustainable way.
Following discussions and debates with the Planning Authority and the local community surrounding the site, the project was fine-tuned to establish the best balance between the development opportunity and the potential for both the business and the community as a whole, bearing in mind the local character and providing a long term vision for the development of the local townscape.
We were mindful that a project in such a sensitive location could only proceed with local community support; therefore, once the building extension drawings and project design was completed, we started a campaign to share our vision for the building with visitors to the café and with the local community. This was done by creating and displaying a series of large canvass information boards inside the café to showcase the project, the design features, the complexity of the site design and our vision for the future of Amici & Bici. The local community and customers of the café were encouraged to be vocal about their opinion of the project proposals and to provide feedback on what they thought to the Local Planning Authority.
There were over 70 letters of comments that reached the Planning Office about this project and we are pleased to say that all of these letters were positive and supportive with no objections raised from the local community. So our thoughtful design that had been carefully fine-tuned working alongside the Local Planning Authority and with community support resulted in planning permission being granted by Sheffield City Council Planning Authority.
As an architectural design team, we feel that this calibre of high quality architectural design and investment is exactly what Abbeydale Road needs to instigate much needed positive change and a new vision for the future in supporting local businesses within the communities of the surrounding area. Further information on our commercial architectural design services can be found by clicking here.
We’ve been delighted to see the amazing support from our client, their customers and also the local community for the new plans and architectural designs and we are looking forward to starting the next exciting project. You can click here to contact us to discuss your residential or commercial property extension today.
Further information on our commercial architectural design services can be found by clicking this text.
You can also click here to contact us to discuss your residential or commercial property extension.