The client had initially approached the architects in 2013 to design an extension to their grade ll listed farmhouse, on a footprint, that the house had originally stood on before being flattened by a stray bomb during World War II.
At the time of submitting plans to the local council, one of the clients developed a sudden illness, which meant that the project was subsequently abandoned. Two years later the project was recommenced with a redesign that would need to tackle issues of level access between the old and new building on all floors, with lift and exterior connections designed to allow access for a wheelchair.
The design was developed with Mid Devon District Council and their conservation officers, working on a series of one-to-one scale experiments with the client as a means of assessing comfort and accessibility.
The primary function of the new addition started off as a service / access tower to enable level entry to the original house on both floors as well as the surrounding landscape. Once the layout of the old farmhouse had been opened up, the new scheme would satellite around this core and address other key client needs.
Bringing back the farm to the farmhouse set the tone for the extension. New British Design wanted to re-establish an agricultural aesthetic that had been lost through previous renovations. A contemporary reworking of the traditional attached livestock building referenced many agricultural typologies found locally from the Cob Linhay to the 20th century ‘Dutch’ barn.
Working with a palette of brick, zinc, galvanized steel and larch, every detail from the doors to the king-post trusses with integrated hoists were designed to accommodate the client’s needs. Delivering a building that is specifically designed to improve a person’s quality of life was the key aspect of the brief that the architects kept returning to throughout the whole process.
The new building was built around a galvanized steel portal frame that supports a secondary timber structure cloaked with black brick and zinc. The galvanizing protects the exposed steel frame on the North and South gables that form the accessible car port and balconies and is left exposed to reflect the building’s contemporary agricultural aesthetic intentions.
“So much time was spent on how it should function, what it should look like, but I could never have imagined how it would make me feel. Before, I would spend the summers largely trapped outside, or the winters stuck in a small kitchen unable to move unaided. Now I can get all around my house, on my own”.