WAN Awards 2015


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Martello Tower Y, Bawdsey, United Kingdom

Thursday 25 Nov 2010

Monumentally light...

all photographs copyright Edmund Sumner 
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No. of Comments: 3

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02/02/11 Tom Pyemont, Hawick
An interstingly radical solution.
I am converting, for clients, a listed, Victorian circular (25m) brick water reservoir covered with a dodecagon slated roof - with spectactacular views over The Firth of Forth and the North Sea.
21/12/10 Norman, Munich
Utterly astounding. A great tribute to the architects. Totally and unforgivingly jealous! :-)
30/11/10 John Pavitt, Chichester
A well-intentioned and thoroughly thought out project with scope for more projects as the towers can be found all up this coast.
It would be interesting to see an interior photo of one of the lower rooms lit from the 'light tubes' drilled down from the widow cills in the rooms above.

Award Entry

A contemporary conversion heralded by English Heritage as an exemplar of how to convert historical buildings 

Converting a Napoleonic defense tower built in 1808 into a 21st Century private residence was a demanding brief. As a 'Scheduled Monument' on the 'At Risk' register and located in an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', the planning negotiations were matched in complexity by the on-site logistics and servicing strategy.

Built in 1808 the tower had fallen into disrepair over the last century. Cam-shaped on plan, with 3m thick vaulted masonry walls, the only entrance is on the first floor of the building and the ground floor is completely windowless. Strategically the intention was to clearly differentiate the old and the new, avoiding pastiche, with the contemporary insertions touching the original fabric as lightly as possible, allowing the heavily textured masonry to be the star.

The conversion is conceived as a progression from dramatically shadowed spaces in the vaulted interior up to the unfettered views and lightness of the rooftop. The 3D curving roof, prefabricated off-site using computer generating cutting patterns, is tethered lightly to the existing fabric using only five steel struts and 3-dimensionally curving frameless glazing ensuring a clean and discrete separation between the old and the new and 360° views of the coastal landscape. Although the materiality of the roof juxtaposes the textured dark interiors below the geometry was entirely generated from the curves of the existing building.

The conversion is representative of a larger issue - the huge catalogue of British historical buildings lying vacant. Rather than see this tower fall into dereliction Piercy Conner Architects and Billings Jackson Design saved the tower by reincarnating it as a family home through a series of highly contemporary yet sensitive architectural interventions. In this way the principles of conservation go beyond preserving historical 'artefacts' in aspic and instead claim the opportunity to reinvent and recycle existing fabric.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 0(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
Piercy Conner Architects

More projects by this architect

Piercy Conner Architects


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