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Old Bearhurst, Upper Rother Valley, East Sussex, United Kingdom

Wednesday 04 Jan 2012

Something old with something new

Please credit James Brittian for the following images - 01,06,19,38; And Mark Hadden for images - 04 
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Award Entry

A two-century old Oast house is extensively remodelled complete with new annex 

Duggan Morris Architects completed Old Bearhurst in February 2011. The extensive remodelling of a two century old oast house was to provide space to accommodate the client's growing family and included the overhauling existing Barn and Roundels, as well as the construction of a new annex. The building is set within agricultural land and defined by an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which has drawn out a unique response to the topography, landscape, history and setting.

The project was aimed at creating a unified series of flowing, contemporary spaces, allowing a greater degree of flexibility, linking internal spaces to the impressive rolling fields to the south, and the higher meadow land to the north. Equally, the brief called for a building with character and personality, respectful of the existing Oast House, and taking advantage of the views and surrounding environment.

A key objective of the brief was to rediscover the integrity of the building through careful observation and research where new additions and alterations would work harmoniously to create a new envisioned whole. However, the core ambition was to create a dwelling, which over time would come to reflect an exemplar approach to contemporary rural renovation work; and to create a flexible living environment for the growing family within the exceptional surroundings.

The project is defined by two distinct elements; one being the original building with its oast and roundels, and the second being the new lower annex. The contrast between these two elements is expressed both through the articulation of form as well as material detail and treatment. The original building is given a thorough but sensitive makeover.

Firstly, all non-original elements are removed, including the garage and study extension, the kitchen wing, dormers and chimney breast, faux Victorian railings, plastic piping and of course all internal finishes and fixings. The replacement treatments were selected following an analysis of the likely original condition, including a rough sawn ship-lapped green oak cladding added between the eaves and down to first floor level, windows were relocated as a simple symmetrical grid across all elevations and framed in locally sourced oak, the roof was fully repaired with recycled clay tiles from the demolished kitchen extension and dormers were removed. In this way, from whichever vantage point, the team believe the shape, form, scale and quality of this two hundred year old building is easily discernible against the new annex.

The annex itself is an altogether more sculptural and dynamic form of interconnecting volumes entirely clad in a stable, durable, engineered timber boarding, orientated vertically, in contrast to the rough sawn horizontal ship-lapping timber cladding of the oast barn. In plan terms, the new annex is located over the foot print of the removed outbuildings, and intentionally so in the context of the planning policies governing this project. Equally, the external massing and form of the building is very much an expression of the internal function of each room, with heights and window positions clarifying the building programme. The inherent quality of the project is thus a composition of conjoined volumes each intended to be read as a component of a whole, or cluster, which includes the original barn.

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Duggan Morris Architects

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