'Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.'
Lao Tzu

Extension and Alterations to a cottage in the Conservation Area, Swinbrook village, Oxfordshire - 2010

SUMMARY: This project involves the extension of a cottage at the foot of a steep valley side in a Conservation Area. The existing terraced cottage is two-bedroomed and runs along the slope of the hill at the bottom of the site just above the road.

The new accommodation is to comprise three ensuite double bedrooms together with a major remodelling of the Kitchen/Dining area to make it larger and lighter. Two of the bedroom suites are to be accommodated in the extension to the rear and uphill side of the existing cottage.

DETAIL: Due to the tight constraints of the site part of the extension is to be dug in to the hill slope behind the existing cottage. For this reason, and due to the close proximity of neighbours a lot of light and ventilation is to come from above, whilst at the sides views in and out are to be restricted by timber louvre structures and 'smartglass' to preserve privacy without curtailing light admittance. 

The louvre structures to the new windows facing the neighbours to the sides are to be of stout sections of Douglas fir which give the privacy that louvres afford and also contrast the fenestration of the extension to that of the original cottage, giving a clear visual separation of the new and old. There is also a clear step-in and change of materials to denote the start of the extension in respect of the original cottage, again signalling an architectural separation distinguishing the new from the old.

Local fieldstone, Cotswold stone rooftiles, and sustainably-sourced timber are to be used throughout, giving a contemporary but strongly agricultural and Cotswold flavour the the project.

Sketches were completed in autumn 2006. Planning Permission was granted in December 2007 and Building Regulations drawings were commenced in summer 2008. Construction is to commence in 2009.

This early study model shows the simple massing of the extension, and a strategy for admitting light to the dug-in part. The massing had to be amended to a more conservative form later in order to secure Planning Permission.
Model of the extension as granted Planning Permission. A stepped public right of way path exists in front of this elevation - hence the louvred windows for privacy.
Approved scheme has a staircase 'tower' with catslide roof beside it.
Aerial view of extension shows a roof terrace to the upper bedroom suite, with a walk-on rooflight lying flush to the terrace decking.
Southwest view of extension.