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Devon practice New British Design completes farmhouse extension


The £348,000 project was designed to meet the needs of a wheelchair-using client

New British Design has completed an extension to a Grade II-listed farmhouse in Wembworthy, Devon. The new building stands on the footprint of where the original house stood before being destroyed by a bomb during the Second World War.

Lr nbd batelease 9

Lr nbd batelease 9

An earlier version of the design was abandoned at the time of submitting plans to Mid Devon Council, when the client suffered a devastating accident which left her paralysed from the neck down.

In 2015, the client was ready to look at recommissioning the project with a new set of constraints for accessible design. The redesign created a level threshold between the existing and proposed building on all floors, with an additional lift and exterior connections to allow full use of the house.

Developing the design closely with a conservation officer, New British Design went through a series of 1:1 experiments with the client, assessing both comfort and accessibility.

Lr nbd batelease 30

Lr nbd batelease 30

Architect’s view

The new addition started off as a service and access tower to enable level entry to the original house on both floors as well as the surrounding landscape. Once we had opened up the old farmhouse, the layout of the new scheme would satellite around this core and address other key client needs.

We wanted to re-establish an agricultural aesthetic to the farmhouse that had been lost through previous renovations (and a stray bomb). A contemporary reworking of the traditional attached livestock building referenced many agricultural typologies found locally, from the ’Linhay’ to the 20th-century ‘Dutch’ barn.

Working with a palette of brick, zinc and larch, every detail – from the doors to the king-post trusses with integrated hoists – was designed to accommodate the client’s needs. Delivering a building specifically designed to improve quality of life was the aspect of the brief that we kept returning to throughout the whole process.

Ben Huggins, architect, New British Design

Nbd batelease farm axonometric

Nbd batelease farm axonometric

Client’s view

Last week I got out of the car and into my wheelchair. I was able to go all around my house and up to the polytunnel at the end of the garden on my own for the first time since 2013. This project has changed my life once again. So much time was spent on how it should function, what it should look like, but I could never have imagined how it would make me feel. Before I would have to spend the summers largely trapped outside, or the winters stuck in a small kitchen unable to move unaided. Now I can get all around my house – on my own.

I look around and see the 15th and 18th-century parts of the house blending seamlessly into the 21st century. I can move all around it and enjoy the transitions, soft and complementing. The house has become the home I wanted for myself with all the accessibility I need immediately, but most importantly, discreetly at hand. The house is now a social space for me and I am able to entertain in it. It is everything I wanted.

Annette Moody

Nbd batelease farm gf plan

Nbd batelease farm gf plan

Project data

Start on site January 2017
Completion December 2018
Gross internal floor area 145m²
Form of contract or procurement route Construction Management
Construction cost £348,000
Construction cost per m² £2,400
Architect New British Design
Client Annette Moody
Structural engineer Simon Bastone Associates
Approved building inspector JHAI
Conservation consultant Mid Devon Council
Main contractor Jon Garrity
CAD software used Vectorworks


Readers' comments (2)

  • Quite a lot of different materials used externally for the size of the building, but overall a good effort and all credit to the local planners for supporting it. But is it really a good idea to have used horizontal timber - even larch - boarding for the roof over the balcony, in this climate? It would be a shame if this type of architecture became discredited for inappropriate use of materials that resulted in problems of appearance and maintenance.

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  • Super and suitable agricultural aesthetic.

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