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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Hawthbush in Sussex Downs, England by Mole Architects

 
March 30th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Mole Architects

Mole won planning permission to refurbish and extend this 17th century farmhouse in open countryside within the High Wield area of the Sussex Downs. The scheme replaced several ‘70s additions of little architectural merit with a single barrel-vaulted extension. The extension and alterations are designed to allow greater prominence to the original farmhouse which is modernised internally, making the building function better as a family home. Attached while visually separate, the extension contains a generous south facing family kitchen with an open aspect on the ground floor; a new master bedroom enjoys the vault above.

Image Courtesy © David Butler 

  • Architects: Mole Architects
  • Project: Hawthbush
  • Location: Sussex Downs, England, UK
  • Photography: David Butler

Image courtesy Mole Architects

The scheme won approval following previous refusals and was designed following research into the historic development of farmyards in the AONB, adopting the formal pattern of a ‘disbursed cluster.’ This form has been used to decrease apparent scale making the building more visually coherent and returning the existing farmhouse to its original form.

Image Courtesy © David Butler

Client Brief
In place of an existing 70’s extension, the clients required an extension that was sympathetic to the integrity of the original Grade II listed 17th century farmhouse, but which provided additional space and a spacious kitchen diner with lots of glazing providing views out. They weren’t keen on creating a ‘radical’ ultra-modern extension but did want to avoid a pastiche of the old.

Image Courtesy © David Butler

They wanted a modern space with ‘good flow,’ ideal for a growing family and a practical addition to a working farm. They identified an appreciation for natural materials – wood cladding, glass, lead, copper and definitely wanted sustainability. When asked to produce a list of rooms Lisa (one of the clients) instead presented MOLE with a pot she had made, saying, “I don’t know what I mean by it, but there’s something about this pot that conveys what I feel about the extension.”

Image Courtesy © David Butler

Planning Constraints
The scheme is located in the within the Low Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, close the boundary of the High Wield. It won approval following a site history of refusals. The scheme was designed following research into the historic development of farmyards within the Weald – well documented/published by Forum Heritage Services for the Joint Advisory Committee of the High Weald AONB (JCA 122), based on 3500 farmstead sites analysed on historic maps. Both High and Low Weald are characterised by high densities of isolated farmsteads, which comprise small scale groups of individual farmyard structures.

Image Courtesy © David Butler

These historic farmsteads are characterised by: ‘Loose Courtyards,’ ‘L-plans’ and ‘Dispursed Clusters.’. JCA 122 notes that Dispersed Cluster is most prevalent in the High Weald, and the scheme adopts this formal pattern. The extension is designed to be redolent of an agricultural building adjacent to the farmhouse. This form decreases the extension’s apparent scale, allowing greater prominence to the farmhouse.

Image Courtesy © David Butler

Two meetings held at pre-application stage with planners from Wealden District Council, suggested that further thought/background was required on the location of the extension, and relationship to existing house. These comments were considered and alternative locations tested in CAD model form and discussed at a further meeting, during which it was agreed that the logic of the original location was acceptable, and difficulties in the revised location (in terms of sunlight penetration and incorporation into the plan) made it less feasible.

Image Courtesy © David Butler

Materials & Methods of Construction
Attached while visually separated from the existing farmhouse, the extension provides a contemporary reinterpretation of local farmsteads. It is constructed from reclaimed brick from a nearby farmhouse, with a glulam timber frame barrel-vaulted roof structure covered in terne-coated steel. A glass link provides access into the farmhouse while giving breathing space to the new extension. The ground floor of the extension contains a generous south-facing family kitchen and above, a master bedroom enjoys the vault.

Image Courtesy © David Butler

Alongside other alterations carried out by the client to the existing house, including a revised entry for a more accessible drop off, the extension helps make the original building function better as a family home. Ultimately, the overall plan, including the extension, makes use of the site, the sun, the revised entry, and organises the house better. The clients project managed construction and the extension forms part of a broader ongoing sustainable development strategy organised across the larger collection of buildings that make up Hawthbush farmyard. While this strategy is not part of the project £220K budget, it is worth noting as it forms the framework within which the project sits.

Image Courtesy © David Butler

This strategy includes a 50KW woodchip boiler, 10KW array of solar PV, MHRV system and a borehole for house water. The Client ensured all hardcore was provided on site and all soil disposal dealt with on site. The solar PV and boiler fuelled by woodchip generated on-site and installed by the client as part of the larger strategy generate all electrical and heating requirements for the house and extension.

Image Courtesy © David Butler

Timetable
The clients approached MOLE in 2008. Planning approval was granted in summer 2009. Building work began on site in early 2010 and was completed in the summer of 2011.

Programme and Budget constraints
There were no programme constraints as the Client project managed construction over a period of 19 months. The final contract sum was 220K.

Image Courtesy © David Butler

Image courtesy Mole Architects

Image courtesy Mole Architects

Image courtesy Mole Architects

Image courtesy Mole Architects

Image courtesy Mole Architects

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Categories: House, Residential

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