'Simplicity and repose are qualities that measure the true value of any work of art.'
Frank Lloyd Wright

Extension and Alterations to a Listed cottage - Kelmscott village, Oxfordshire - 2002

SUMMARY: A small award-winning extension to a Grade II Listed cottage in a rural Oxfordshire village.

The new accommodation comprises a new South-facing Family Dining area on the ground floor and a Study galleried above it at first floor level. The adjoining ground floor Kitchen and first floor bedrooms were remodelled as part of the works. As much a part of the extension as the interior accommodation were the new external wildlife pool and its enclosing and adjoining walls and statue.

This project won the RIBA Wessex Region 'Town and Country' Award for 'Best Extension' in 2003. The catchment area for this award included Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Channel Islands.

DETAIL: The existing cottage is a long detached single-room width structure running North to South, presenting gables in both directions.

The extension is to the Southern end of the cottage where there was a Kitchen but no directly adjoining dining area. There was clearly an opportunity to create a new informal dining area to the South of the Kitchen which could have a close relationship with the garden and with the Kitchen. The extension provides a new Family Dining area at ground floor level and a Study gallery 'in the roof' at first floor level. The internal plan size of the space added is approximately 5 metres by 5 metres.

The extension incorporates three elements in close juxtaposition at the gable end. A reflecting pool is drawn up to the walls of the house on the outside, there is a galleried (cut back) first floor inside, and between them there is a tall bay window on the new gable. The galleried floor allows sunlight to penetrate deep into the interior, while the pool reflects dappled patterns of light up through the tall bay window onto the walls and ceilings inside. The level of the pool water was kept as high as possible in relation to the cill height of the bay window to facilitate reflection to the interior. On sunny days the reflected light from the pool moves in accordance with nuances of water and wind movement as well as the sun�s path across the sky to cast changing reflections of dappled light into the cottage. The bay incorporates a window seat and full height opening casements approx 2.6m high.

A garden sprite statue designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1912 faces West across the pool, which is surrounded by walls of local fieldstone. The walls that form the pool also extend out into the landscape and bind the cottage closer to its setting. Two sections of wall were made into an equivalent of Zen garden elements. One section of wall (a stone column backing the garden sprite statue) is the 'erect' element of a Zen garden, while a long dry-stone wall section approximates the 'recumbent' element. For these reasons and due to the use of gravel as a main paving element this part of the garden has a distinctly Japanese flavour.

Inside the finishes were kept simple and natural. Limestone flooring from a local quarry, plastered walls with rounded corners at junctions, and one internal stone wall of local fieldstone. Windows are timber with hardwood frames and softwood casements, made locally. Heating is by underfloor pipes to obviate radiators. At first floor level the roof has exposed rafters with timber skirting board linings over them.

This project incorporates the work of all three associates and demonstrates how interior, architecture and landscape can successfully be merged and focused on each other even on a small project. This project has been featured in a number of magazines including 'Country Living', 'Period House', 'Homebuilding and Renovating' and the Japanese magazine 'Modern Living'.

View of extension from Southwest. The gable elevation contains three major elements: a pool drawn right up to the building and elevated, A tall bay window, and a galleried (cut back) floor within.
Dining area, looking towards bay window.
Bay window - detail of window seat.
Pool and garden sprite statue. The statue faces neither toward nor away from the extension, but across it.
Dining area from Kitchen.
View of the extension from West. The pool is drawn right up to the building and elevated to window cill level. This was in order to promote reflections from the water into the house.
Gallery ballustrade detail.
Kitchen worktop and window detail.
Excerpt from Building Regulations drawing.
This project won the RIBA Wessex Region Town and Country award for Best Extension in 2003.