In a booming British beach town, longtime locals team with newcomer architects to salvage a 19th-century workers’ lodging.
Feeling lucky? Ollie Whitmarsh and Natasha Hart certainly were, after their Google search uncovered the ideal architecture firm, RL-a, to convert their cramped 19th-century cottage in southern England into a spacious family home. “My search was ‘architects, Margate,’” says Ollie, who works in insurance. “They seemed quite innovative, just from the website, and when we met we pretty much clicked straightaway.”
The meeting was even more serendipitous than it may at first sound— RL-a’s Tim Ratliff and Tam Landells had only recently relocated their practice to a warehouse studio in the couple’s coastal town, joining hundreds of young artists, designers, and bearded baristas on their exodus from London, 75 miles away. Margate has become a celebrated destination for those priced out of the capital, with the blue-collar resort now a vision of what might happen if you were to drop Brooklyn’s trendy Williamsburg onto Coney Island.
RL-a’s office is just a mile east of the new art gallery Turner Contemporary, named for onetime resident J.M.W. Turner, and the Dreamland theme park, which boasts a 1920s wooden roller-coaster inspired by an early Coney Island ride. Ollie and Natasha’s cottage sits about a mile southwest of the gallery, within easy reach of town, countryside, and beach.