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Rebuilt to Last: Home Farm by De Matos Ryan

Tinkered with since the 16th century, Home Farm’s newest interventions by De Matos Ryan include a barn conversion, a suite in the loft and a garden pavilion

‘You will never get permission to do this’ was the conservation officer’s initial response when we presented our outline proposals to refurbish, restructure and expand Home Farm in 2006. Unfortunately, this is typical of projects in conservation settings: it is only through perseverance, the client’s determination (and in this case, nine planning and listed building applications) that such interventions are ever realised.

Home Farm is a Grade-II listed house located in the Cotswolds outside Cheltenham. It forms part of a picturesque grouping of listed buildings which include a tithe barn, a neighbouring church (Grade I) and the eight-gabled house. Comprising a main house and two outbuildings, the architecture of Home Farm has been progressively developed over time. Periodic additions of new detached or infill structures are fundamental to the character of the listed enclosure, and express the site’s adaptation to the changing needs of its occupants and the local community.

The main house is the best example of this incremental approach, with what was in the 16th century a fully detached dwelling, physically joined to the churchyard’s retaining boundary wall in the 17th. This infill section, probably vertically extended to form a loft at a later date, is in fact significantly larger in volume than the original building, and is now the most striking and dominant element within this group of listed structures.

These great houses have survived for centuries because they have evolved. The conservation officer on this project was interested in contemporary architecture and willing to engage in an intelligent debate about the transformation of the site, and how this could continue to ensure a sustainable future for this house, lovingly restored and adapted to meet the requirements of 21st-century family life.

The glass pavilion gives a sense that you are cooking in the garden

Following separate initial applications, permission was granted for the four-bedroom house to be restructured, refurbished and extended with a new converted loft space, to provide an additional bedroom and bathroom. Original ceilings, exposed stonework, and timber-framed plaster and lath walls were restored. New modern staircases, bathrooms, doors and joinery were treated as distinct sculptural furniture-like elements, and linings were provided in the original spaces.

To the west of the house is an open barn/shelter, and permission was separately granted for its conversion and refurbishment to provide an ancillary guest bedroom suite detached from the house, and a garden room facing a new structured garden.

The existing property was not able to accommodate a kitchen space appropriate to its scale, so we created a low-level garden pavilion, cut into the sloping hillside, with a glazed link to the converted open barn shelter and a hidden, underground link to the main house. Containing an open-plan 43m² kitchen/informal living space, the structure opens up completely to the garden and provides views through to the rear of the site.

The carefully designed kinked roof maintains visibility of two characteristically large primary stone walls, on the side of the house and the rear retaining wall to the upper-level churchyard. The new planted roof is almost level with the ground floor window sills of the 17th-century house, so that views from the main house are unobstructed.

We worked closely with Price & Myers to develop a structure that would allow the roof to appear as though it was just resting on top of the retaining walls, with no visible support. To reinforce the open landscape nature of this pavilion and the sense that you are cooking in the garden, we were keen to ensure that glazing was as frameless as possible, and that the aluminium sliding aNd pivot doors had thin, minimal frames. The front glazing is full height, concealing the depth of the roof structure behind, further contributing to the character of the new pavilion as a lightweight glazed enclosure to a sheltered garden space.

Natural local materials of the highest quality were chosen to match the setting; limestone and oak were selected because they would weather and age to complement the existing architecture and landscape. Where original features existed, these were restored as found, creating a setting against which distinctive contemporary interventions could be made, both internally and externally.

The garden pavilion has given Home Farm a new lease of life, and allowed it to evolve as it always has done. Despite the struggle, we enjoy conservation projects like these, where a considered and contextual approach allows a modern intervention or addition to enhance and celebrate a cultural asset.

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