What was lost is now gained

JCA Team:
Chris Lawler
Project Design Team:
Johnston Cave Associates (Architects)
Project type:
Refurbishment and extensions
Project year: 2005

The earliest parts of our clients’ home probably date from the 15th century. 

Unusually for a Listed Building, it is a substantially smaller and in a much diminished setting from the original working farmhouse, associated buildings and surrounding farmyard.

The reduced size of the complex is partly due to a major fire in the 1970s, which destroyed much of the 17th century extensions in particular a large wing to the west of the present building. It meant that much of the historical context had been lost. This, and the introduction of two nearby modern dwellings, had altered the character and perception of the house and its setting.

This was the crux of the argument we used to gain planning permission for some substantial alterations, improvements and additions on our client’s behalf.

With our experience of working with historical buildings in sensitive locations we were able to show that our proposed new extensions to the east and the west of the existing building did not impinge on the historical context nor the present outline of the landscape, and was in fact lower than the existing dovecote barn ridge.

To the west side we built a single storey drawing room wing. To the east, we built a two storey wing containing a large family kitchen with a master bedroom suite on the floor above and a basement below to contain a swimming pool and laundry. 

Being sited on the edge of a hill with the land falling away to dramatic long views to the south and west, we were able to have the basement take full advantage of these contours and so the swimming pool opens out onto a secluded sunken terrace at a lower level of the garden with full views to the distant landscape.

An important element of the build was our clients’ desire to introduce environmentally sustainable and robust technologies to help ensure that the house can be used by current and future generations.

We achieved this by exploiting natural energy and water resources through its efficient management and conservation ensuring that there is minimal reliance on carbon dioxide producing fossil fuels.

With any marriage of new extensions to a historic building, the devil is always in the details.

We made sure we were respectful to the historic fabric of the existing building. The the vast majority of the existing timber framed building for example, required minimal intervention and by careful design and materials selection such as the use of handmade bricks, tiles, timber cladding and painted timber widows and doors, we were able to create a unified structure.

In this instance the sum of the parts proved greater than the whole.