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Carmody Groarke extends rural Sussex home via 40m-long tunnel

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A family farmhouse has been extended with two pavilions which provide spaces for a residential retreat and creative work

As the client’s existing house in rural Sussex could not sustain any further adaptations, a distinct and separate – but adjoined – building, the ‘lake pavilion’, was created within the surrounding landscape.

Designed as a ‘hermitage’, the lake pavilion is a self-sufficient guest suite containing a bedroom, bathroom and a small kitchen. It is conceived as a square, oak-lined room with a single large window overlooking an artificial lake and small island – with an oak jetty extending out over the water.

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Two Pavilions by Carmody Groarke

The mass of the room is partially submerged and surrounded by a densely planted new landscape that covers the sides and the roof, practically obscuring it from the main house and also acting as insulation. The suite is only accessible from the main house, via a 3m diameter, 40m-long, galvanised-steel underground tunnel. 

Externally, the pavilion is made from horizontally board-marked, in-situ concrete and is embedded into the steeply sloped banks of the lake, giving it an archaic, almost geological character. 

Also on the site was a dilapidated 18th-century farmhouse which was all but destroyed, and has been converted into an artist’s studio – a ‘studio in a ruin’. Rather than demolish its last remains, the form of the old house was reconstructed.

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Two Pavilions by Carmody Groarke

Existing brickwork has been retained and the figure of the original walls has been completed inside and out in polished in-situ concrete. A new weathering steel roof was welded in-situ, which balances on the repaired structure and overhangs the existing footprint to create covered outside spaces to work. A 4m-wide glazed opening faces north into a new orchard, and is the principal source of light from which to make and show sculpture.

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Two Pavilions by Carmody Groarke

The landscape is intended to closely immerse the structure, so that eventually it will envelop the building, leaving only the steel roof visible above the long grasses and trees.

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Two Pavilions by Carmody Groarke

Site plan: Lake pavilion, House, Studio in a ruin (left to right)

Project data

Start on site Lake pavilion: September 2015; Studio in a ruin: April 2016
Completion date November 2017 
Gross internal floor area Lake pavilion: 111m²; Studio in a ruin: 68m²
Form of contract or procurement route Traditional
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Carmody Groarke
Client Private
Structural engineer Stephen Evans Associates
M&E consultant The Design Collective
Quantity surveyor Quantem
Landscape architect J&L Gibbons
Main contractor Myriad Construction
Annual CO2 emissions (estimate) Lake pavilion: 5.3kg/m²; Studio in a ruin: 0.08kg/m²

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