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Divide and unite

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working details

Demonstrating that conservation need not replicate tradition, Gareth Hoskins has restored and converted a Grade B listed stone bobbin mill and created a glass and timber entrance lobby and landscaped garden.

The mill lies on the south bank of the River Earn in Perthshire, at the far end of Loch Earn. Once used for manufacturing bobbins, with lathes turned by a water wheel, the building had become derelict, its wheel, mill-race and leat had gone. The stonework needed rebuilding and pointing throughout and the roof was rotten and sagging. The client wanted to turn it into a house and a holiday flat which could be combined to form a single unit.

The three-storey mill, T-shaped in plan, is wedged tightly into the river bank with access at ground floor level from a track which passes alongside, sheltered by a rich beech hedge; the basement is at river level. Conservation officers and planners were involved in the restoration, which included lime-mortar pointing, a new roof and new floors with massive joists to match the originals and the replacement of the original windows matching the very delicate astragal mouldings. Large new window openings have been formed in the stone walls to let light into interior spaces and open new views to the river.

The mill's T-shaped form naturally lent itself to subdivision - the shorter leg of the T as the flat and the longer leg as the house. The difficulties lay in circulation - both units needed separate staircases. The key to the economical re-planning of the interior is the new entrance lobby which slides neatly in at the junction of the two wings and is covered by an oversailing lead extension of the main pitched roof. It gives shared access to two entrance doors at ground-floor level.

From the main track a boarded walkway above basement level gives access to the lobby. Below it is a store for bicycles and garden furniture.

The lobby is clad with vertical cedar boarding which is also used to replace the original mill door alongside it. A delicate glass corner window is set within the cedar boarding, emphasising the heavy sweep of the roof. It is positioned at low level to give views of the river for those sitting on the lobby bench to change their walking boots.

The flat entrance door leads to a living area and a small bathroom, with a staircase to a bedroom on the first floor. The house entrance leads to a large living area which occupies the whole of the ground floor with windows on three sides. The open-riser staircases to the basement, a kitchen and additional living area, and to the first floor, are set between a new fireplace wall and the exposed stonework of the original central wall. They have open risers to let light into the basement. Two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor are reached by a lobby which also gives access to the bedroom of the flat when the building is to be used as a single unit.

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