This metal-clad artist studio 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 an intentionally rusted Corten 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.
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“The interior space is lined with pale spruce plywood to create a singular, austere room. Roof glazing sheds an even north light and a small mezzanine window gives a view over the reed beds towards the North Sea. The studio can be used for artists and writers’ residencies, for music rehearsal and performance or for seminars and exhibitions. Only the minimum work needed to stabilize the ruined brickwork was done before the new structure was inserted – decaying existing windows were left alone and vegetation growing over the dovecote was protected to allow an uninterrupted natural process of aging.”
“The small structure alludes to the repurposing of the old maltings for creative use. Hovering between installation and architecture, it is the only demonstrative new element within an otherwise understated, almost invisible series of interventions that we have made elsewhere on the site.”