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The Dairy House, Castle Cary, Somerset, United Kingdom

Tuesday 02 Dec 2008

Pastures new

Photography by James Morris 
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Former dairy converted to a five bedroom house with a small pool 

The project sits in an 850 acre estate in Somerset. Pragmatically the space was to be re-planned; lean-to sheds removed and an extension added to create a total of four to five bedrooms, three bathrooms, more generous circulation space with rooms of better proportions.

The brief changed during the design; what was originally to be a letting property became a retreat for the client, a place to escape the main estate. It was to be discreet with the intervention to appear as a natural extension of the existing structure. The design set out to appear ‘un-designed’. The inspiration was both literal, in the stacked timber in the yard opposite, and literary, in the 18th century ‘La Petite Maison – An Architectural Seduction’, architectural treatise and erotic novella by Jean-Francois de Bastide. Rather than demolishing and rebuilding, the sense of ‘retreat’ was to be reinforced through ‘camouflage’; the form and massing of the extension echoes and compliments the existing structure. The house was to appear unchanged from the outside, and to reveal itself on entering - against expectations.

The aim was to use as many local materials as possible. Estate timber is planked and dried in the storage barns in the farmyard opposite the site, and the method of drying – where raw planks are separated by spacers to allow air circulation - became the generator of the logic and aesthetic of the extension.

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Skene Catling de la Pena

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