- AJ Retrofit Awards, Housing Category, Shortlisted, 2021
Of masonry cavity construction with timber roof structure and pan tiled roofs synonymous with the Suffolk countryside, existing materials are exposed and celebrated giving a robust semi industrial palette to the new homes. The existing fabric has been enhanced to provide modern levels of comfort; existing walls have been insulated, underfloor heating has been installed throughout and the existing roof has been removed, insulated and the original tiles reinstated. The buildings functional proportions are embraced with double height living spaces leading directly to the generous private gardens. A first floor has been inserted into the front section of the building to provide ensuite bedrooms and family bathrooms. Wide planked timber floors on the first floors offer a softer more homely quality in contrast to the concrete floors at ground level. Elsewhere black steel staircases and concrete hint at the buildings functional past and walls clad in black vertical timber reference the agricultural vernacular. Situated in just under 4 acres the conversion embraces the rural setting and allows each home a connection with the ever changing landscape. Living spaces are flooded with natural light and long views via full height double glazed windows and doors. Existing trees and hedges have been incorporated into the proposals to promote the relationship between the new homes and their context.
Bringing an abandoned building back to life for use as family homes is one of the most sustainable things we could have done with this building. We wanted the buildings to offer very good levels of comfort throughout the year, but we appreciated the limitations of the existing building. We were able to enhance the existing building, retaining all of the external walls and fully insulating the building envelope. We removed the roof, insulated and reused the existing tiles. New timber framed doubled glazed windows were introduced, offering very good levels of insulation, thermal comfort and maximising solar gain on the East and West faces. Heating is provided via underfloor heating on the ground floor which heats the concrete slab and screed and is individually zoned to provide maximum controllability and smart self regulating thermometers ensure there is a constant background internal temperature. Other buildings were demolished within the site and these materials were reused as hardcore for landscaping and a concrete framed building was reused to introduce edging to the private garden areas. High efficiency fittings have been used wherever possible, including low energy lighting throughout.