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Niall Jacobson extends Dorset cottage with ‘garden room’ clad in local stone

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FIRST LOOK: Sole practitioner Niall Jacobson has completed this extension to a 19th-century stone cottage in Purbeck, Dorset


The house had originally been three smaller cottages which had been knocked together creating awkward relationships between spaces.

The new layout opened up the house to the south facing garden while rearranging the kitchen, dining and sitting areas.

Clad in local Purbeck stone, the new garden room creates a corner overlooking the garden.

Hill Bottom Cottage by Niall Jacobson

Hill Bottom Cottage by Niall Jacobson

Architect’s view

The idea of a garden room was mooted early on and the discussion developed for an addition that would have a definite interior character that related as much to the new internal alterations of the existing house as well as it allowed for a closer visual and physical connection to the garden. Rather than seek to minimise the distinction between inside and out, the extension would provide a new room from which to enjoy a vantage point above the sloping ground of the garden, with both a sense of openness to the landscape but also providing enclosure that will hopefully allow for a range of ways in which to furnish and occupy the space as a result. To this end examples of garden rooms and spaces such as at the Villa Mairea and the Villa Cecchi Campiglio were references, albeit filtered to suit the project’s scale and budget.

The garden room creates a corner bay, and its scale is the result of working with existing roof and window levels of the house. The desire to balance openness and enclosure led to the idea for a low, deep internal cill to define the outer corner of the garden room; acting as a wide threshold that can be be used for sitting and viewing from, display and so on. Externally this is expressed as a horizontal datum of hung cladding panels of local purbeck stone in a honed finish. These in turn sit above the paving of the new terrace, also of purbeck stone, and together provide a material base to the scheme. Above the stone datum is a horizontal run of oak framed glazing that allow panoramic views across the site. This glazing is set tight up to the underside of the projecting eaves line of the flat roof above in order to maximise vertical views of sky beyond the tree line from back within the house. The flat roof, with mill finished aluminium fascia, provides as a simple cap to the building and accommodates a long roof light toward its back edge to ensure that the existing interior space behind the extension remain naturally light. Inside the layering of materials on the facade is reflected in low level oiled oak matchboard panelling that forms the deep corner cill to the space, and new plastered linings above. Floors are grey washed oak with new joinery items such as doors and glazed sliding screen in oiled oak. The structure and construction is a primary steel frame set inboard of timber frame insulated panels and the glazing line.

Hill Bottom Cottage by Niall Jacobson

Hill Bottom Cottage by Niall Jacobson

Project data

Location Purbeck, Dorset
Type of project house extension
Client private
Architect Niall Jacobson Architect
Landscape architect Aileen Shackell Landscape Architects
Structural engineer Jon Oates Structural Engineer
Main contractor Matrod Frampton
Contract duration 7 months

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