House in North Wales, 2018
The house, of a vernacular type presumed to date from the 19th century, is situated close to a river within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty overlooking Snowdonia. It has been in the current owners’ family since the 1970’s, latterly becoming a venue for family holidays. Although the property had evolved over time, the needs of the family today could no longer be accommodated. The house had become largely inaccessible to one of the house’s owners, who is reliant on the use of a wheelchair.
The design and layout of the new rooms have been developed in close collaboration with the client, her immediate family and care team. Although many changes have been made to the layout of the house, its character has been retained in the new and remodelled rooms. The stone walls and the roof form of an existing attached outbuilding were largely retained and remodelled to provide a new dining room and kitchen. A new addition, partly on the site of a former byre, contains a bedroom and bathroom. A new family bathroom is provided as part of upgrades to the main house.
The new addition repeats the profile of the outbuilding and has an equivalent footprint to the ruined byre structure, but offset in plan to define a small outdoor space and in order not to be visible from the public track which provides the best and defining view of the cottage. It is built using a highly insulated timber frame, and clad in corrugated sheeting. The position of the new addition, and the materials used, suggest an accumulative composition and a clear hierarchy of forms. The roof of the existing outbuilding has been re-constructed in its original form, using new corrugated cement sheeting, but with high levels of thermal insulation. New elements are simply detailed; windows and doors are typically framed in timber with a painted finish. Two new larger openings, protected by timber shutters, face south-east and provide panoramic views of the Snowdonia range from all the principal rooms. The new dining room window and door has metal framed glazing of a more utilitarian character; the new bedroom window has a concealed frame to make a picture window.
The window openings are taken to eaves level, with lintels concealed behind a metal gutter, and the roof sheeting brought to a flush verge respecting the prevailing rural typology. New stable doors contribute further to the increased permeability of the house, bringing direct sunlight into the new rooms at different times of the day. Internally the walls and ceilings of the new rooms are lined with painted timber boarding, and a pigmented concrete floor finish is used throughout. High levels of thermal insulation and under-floor heating improve comfort and reduce energy use. A wood-burning stove is positioned in a new recess formed into the back of an earlier fireplace, within the original gable of the main house, and provides an additional source of heat in the new dining room. The remodelled house now provides the space and facilities needed for the family’s continued use and enjoyment of the house and its beautiful landscape setting.