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Archio submits plans for home on remains of Second World War PoW camp

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Up-and-coming practice Archio has lodged plans for a ‘country house clause’ home built using the remains of a Second World War prisoner of war camp north of Wokingham, Berkshire

The firm is banking on Paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework – an exemption allowing ‘innovative’ new-build homes in the open countryside under ‘special circumstances’ – to win approval for the 197m² scheme in the Green Belt.

The Old Pump House proposal, which has an estimated value of £250,000, will ‘restore and repurpose’ the remnants of the rural site, where captured Italian soldiers were once interned.

As well as plans to drop a timber structure with glass clerestory into an existing 1.7m-tall circular reservoir, the scheme features a pair of new pitched-roof pavilions which, the practice claims, directly reference the original huts that stood on the site. 

Mellis Haward, director at Archio, said: ‘It has been fantastic to work on such a complex and individual project as the Old Pump House. We’re dealing with a sensitive historic legacy, challenging technical constraints and the needs of the family simultaneously. It has provided us with the opportunity to reflect upon the past and build for the future.’

A decision on the application is expected within the next few weeks.

Ext and prop elevations 02

Ext and prop elevations 02

Architect’s view

Working with clients that have owned the site since 1989, the brief called for a project that would respect its surroundings, remain considerate of the neighbours and provide the family with much-needed space in a modern house of the highest standards.

Dating back to 1941, the original complex of structures included a series of timber huts for Italian prisoners and a brick water treatment plant. The remaining pump house structures and landscape features are the only surviving elements. The architectural response to this site is therefore not only based on the surviving structures but also takes inspiration from the now long-gone buildings, which once completed this unique and unusual settlement.

The existing circular reservoir structure will be restored, and the 1.7m-high brick skin will be carefully repointed and then transformed by the insertion of a timber structure with clerestory glazing and a floating zinc roof.

Two new timber pavilions feature pitched roofs and horizontal wooden slats, a direct reference to the original huts that stood on the site, but reinterpreted for a contemporary setting.

The pavilions, linked by an external glazed corridor, have been placed to create a new courtyard garden. This arrangement means that the new home forms a ‘settlement’ alongside the existing structures, embracing the historical context as part of the built form.

Ground floor plans archio

Ground floor plans archio

Project data

Location Kiln Green, Berkshire
Type of project Residential
Client Private
Architect Archio
Landscape architect Landscape Vision
Planning consultant Plainview and Woolf Bond Planning
Funding Private
Gross internal floor area 197m²
Form of contract and/or procurement tbc
Total cost Approx £250,000

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