The Dovecote Studio forms part of the music campus at Snape Maltings, founded by Benjamin Britten in derelict industrial buildings on the Suffolk coast
The studio inhabits a ruin and expresses the internal volume of the existing Victorian structure as a Cor-ten steel ‘lining’ – a monocoque, welded structure that was built next to the ruin and craned in when complete.
The building is welded in a single piece to achieve weathertightness, and then fitted with a simple plywood inner lining. A large roof window provides even light for artists, while a small mezzanine platform with a desk incorporates a fully opening glazed corner window that has long views over the marshes.
Architect’s description of external envelope construction
Only the minimum necessary brickwork repairs were carried out to stabilise the existing ruin prior to the new Dovecote Studio structure being inserted. Decaying existing windows were left alone and vegetation growing over the dovecote was protected, to allow it to continue a natural process of ageing and decay.
Prior to the Cor-ten structure being inserted, a new drainage channel was cast to fall at base level, ensuring water running down between the old and the new structures is channelled to accessible drainage points at the door thresholds.
The Cor-ten structure itself is fabricated from full size 1,200 x 2,400mm sheets with regular staggered welded joints, into which door and window openings were cut in locations dictated by internal layout. The framed wall and roof panels were pre-fabricated off site. These were then welded together in a compound next to the ruin, and the finished Cor-ten shell was craned into place in the course of one day.
The interior walls and ceiling of the space are insulated, sealed with a high-performance vapour control layer, and lined with spruce plywood to create a timber ‘box’ within the Cor-ten shell. Laminated plywood sheets also form the stairs, balustrade and mezzanine structure.