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This metal-clad house has layers perfect for those chilly and overcast winter months in the rural British landscape – each material with unique and compelling properties, piled one upon the next. Light plywood walls lining the interior give way to a rusted steel exterior, in turn surrounded by an aged and crumbling brick wall.

Designed by Haworth Tompkins, prefabricated off-site, the wood-and-metal structural shell was transported to its location. The ‘construction’ process consisted simply of lifting it up and slotting it into place like the piece of some giant new puzzle piece or key designed to perfectly fit an ancient lock – windows and doors were of course only added afterward.

The original building was (literally) for the birds – an old dovecote (space for housing doves or pigeons) that has been converted into a kind of ‘cozy’ (double-meaning intended) wrapped around the new house. The addition of a metal layer would be off-putting but the naturally-rusting corten blends it right in – dovetails, if you will, with the surrounding rural township.

Ruins are rustic and romantic; rusted steel is sleek and stunning; wooden walls make a place feel warm and worth living in – in short, this small-but-creative prefab house may be simple in plan but is complex enough to accommodate a variety of architectural and aesthetic tastes and trends on a single piece of property.