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.
The Old Vicarage in Saxmundham, Suffolk by Studio RHE
May 24th, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Studio RHE
The Client had recently purchased The Old Vicarage and undertaken a light restoration of the house, which was surrounded by a motley collection of semi-derelict outbuildings and barns with confused styles and levels. The Clients required a modern, energy efficient, flexible spaces that could function as; additional living area, dining rooms, working offices, photographic location studios, lecture hall and gallery. All of which could function as part of the house at weekends, and independently when hired as location or lecture space.
A budget of circa £100,000 was clearly quite tight to achieve all of the ‘wish list’, and it was decided at an early stage that minimal demolition and reuse of the existing structures would be key to providing the multiple functions required within budget.
Planning Constraints: The Old Vicarage, Rendham is a handsome Regency flat fronted villa built c.1820. The design approach taken was to ensure that the facade facing the main road and driveway was unaffected, and that the additional structure should be used as cohesive elements that touched the existing very lightly with glazed connections and sympathetic materials.
The design was submitted to Suffolk Coastal District Council and a dialogue established, which resulted in their supporting the Planning Application and granting Planning Consent with minimal Conditions attached.
Materials and Method of Construction: The new lightweight building that connects the various existing buildings was created using an independent glulam structure with clearly visible columns and beams and carefully detailed simple steel connections. The external envelope was constructed from heavily insulated rendered blockwork with high performance double glazed aluminium glazing, with concealed frames set into rendered surrounds in selected areas.
The existing structures such as the Suffolk brickwork garden wall were left as weathered imperfect, aged structures which were integrated into the design using a glazed clear-storey and protected by the tapering roof edge, whilst string geometric forms are created within the almost natural shapes of the existing walls.
The design celebrates the purposefully limited palette of materials which comprise; reclaimed timber, exposed waxed glulams, dark painted timber, zinc, clear and mirror glazing, dark painted render and exposed concrete and natural oak doors.
Summary of Timetable, Programme and Budget Constraints: From the original briefing and sketches to Planning Consent took 15 weeks with a further 4 weeks allowed for Tender once permission was received. 3 Tenders were received and a reduced price negotiated with T.J. Construction and Renovation Ltd. over a further two-week period. Once construction commenced the simple structural rationale allowed a progressive sequence of works, which was developed together with the Contractor and allowed a fast programme to be achieved of 11 weeks to Practical Completion.
Conclusion: The success of the building has been recently proved by the use as a location by Elle Deco and The White Company.
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