Converting a cart shed into a café at Trelissick Garden

Visitors enjoying the cafe and play area at Trelissick Garden, Cornwall

What it is

Trelissick Garden near Truro had been finding it difficult to cater for rising visitor numbers; it relied upon a small, seasonal café and an old-fashioned restaurant housed in the upper storey of a Grade II listed cart shed.
As part of this project the ground floor of the historic cart shed was converted into a new modern café, and the restaurant upgraded to provide a new function room. The opportunity was also taken to make other improvements including the installation of environmentally sustainable energy systems.

What we did and why we did it

The undercroft of the cart shed needed to be enclosed in order to create the new café, which meant that some difficult decisions had to be made. Ultimately, it was agreed to make the doors and windows as inconspicuous as possible by setting them back inside the original brick columns. This also meant that the columns would be unaffected by the project.
The intention was to preserve the open character of the undercroft as far as possible, so frameless windows were selected. This option had the least impact and so was considered most appropriate from a conservation point of view.
The non-reflective glass is set back from the doors and is designed to be as discreet as possible to respect the original purpose of the undercroft, whilst allowing it to continue providing for the needs of current visitors to Trelissick.

What else did we do?

Another important aspect of the project was the installation of energy efficient equipment: solar thermal panels, an air-to-water heat pump and a water-harvesting scheme.
The opportunity was also taken to replace the former oil-fired heating system, which was almost 25 years old, with the UK’s first LPG-powered combined heat and power unit (CHP).

Why it was a success

The project has had a very positive impact. This is clear from the improved appearance of the facilities and their increased convenience for both visitors and staff.
Great improvements were also made by creating the new function room in the former restaurant. Truro has few conference facilities and these ones at Trelissick are proving very popular, drawing in groups who had never previously visited.
Download our case study: Crofter’s Café - Conversion of existing restaurant into new catering facility (PDF / 0.6875MB) download