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Hollins Lane by Roz Barr Architects

[5 houses by 5 practices] Roz Barr Architects Hollins Lane, Marple Bridge, Cheshire

In 2010, we were commissioned to remodel an existing 1960s bungalow in Marple Bridge, Cheshire, on the edge of the Peak District. The clients had previously converted Victorian flats in London and Manchester and had lived in grand rented apartments while working in Amsterdam. They had a strong sense of what they wanted to leave behind.

The clients purchased the bungalow; a self-contained house with a secluded garden. During discussions while the purchase went through, I encouraged them to live in the existing, rather ugly, drafty house for a year. This would give them a sense of the spaces and help them understand which aspects of the garden they enjoyed.

The walls of the property were not the existing brick walls but the variety of hedges that framed the boundary. They had an extremely challenging budget, so the brief was to transform the existing bungalow into an extended living space, office and a large family bathroom, that responded to the garden on three sides.

Low-cost construction for the three-bedroom house was achieved by retaining and re-ordering the sleeping block and demolishing the rest of the poorly constructed building; wrapping the front with a large living/kitchen area that offered larger volumes and good natural light.

The materials used were critical to the success of this design. Both materials and structure had to be crafted, so black engineering brick was specified to contrast with the existing red brick of the rear retained block. The new structure tied into the old with careful engineering and elements of the existing timber beams left exposed. A simple steel construction to achieve the eight-metre glazed window to the main elevation allowed for no columns and load-bearing exposed blockwork.

Creative use of cost efficient materials allowed us to upgrade the existing building fabric and quality of living space. New insulation to the roof and floor space has improved the thermal envelope of the entire building, keeping heating costs down.

Door frames are made from sections of 4” x 1” with a rebated detail so 2.4 metre high doors could be enjoyed and standard boards of birch ply floor were used throughout to create a series of uninterrupted spaces. Recessed door openings allow for an uninterrupted connection between the front and rear gardens.

Windows frame views of an already established hedgerow with top lighting in the bathrooms and hallway. A generous, light-filled hallway for artwork and large new doorways created lofty, unusual spaces that are far from utilitarian.

The ethos of this project was to re-imagine the ‘bungalow’ as an interesting building type that once proliferated in housebuilding and to rethink its use within contemporary family living. This project demonstrates how a self-contained plot can be cleverly re-assembled and altered by a few simple yet key spacial and material decisions to create beautiful yet functional spaces.

Roz Barr, director, Roz Barr Architect

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