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Dairy House

This conversion of a former Dairy to a five-bedroom house with a small pool combines privacy and seclusion with openness to the wider landscape.

The project sits in an 850 acre Estate in Somerset. Pragmatically the space was to be re-planned; lean-to sheds removed and an extension added to create a total of four to five bedrooms, three bathrooms, more generous circulation space with rooms of better proportions. It was to be discreet with the intervention to appear as a natural extension of the existing structure: the design set out to appear ‘un-designed’.
The aim was to use as many local materials as possible. Estate timber is planked and dried in the storage barns in the farmyard opposite the site, and the method of drying – where raw planks are separated by spacers to allow air circulation – became the generator of the logic and aesthetic of the extension. The glass was layered in the same manner. The pieces increase in depth towards the base to reinforce a sense of weight and rustication.
The gable end walls were conceived of as rigid beams which span between the large steels fixed to the existing building and the bank opposite. The construction alternates interlocking layers of oak and laminated glass blocks. The extension was constructed by a local cabinet maker Paul Longpré, used to millimetre tolerances and very fine finishes. The timber was cut and finished in his workshop two miles from the site, and the glass blocks laminated by a specialist glass worker nearby.
The oak retains the waney edge on the outside; the inside is finely sanded. Similarly, the blocks of laminated glass are left rough on the exterior, and are polished on the interior. The glass draws light through the walls to create the effect of lightweight construction internally, while the exterior appears as much heavier, rougher and rustic. The structure was built up from the prefabricated pieces on site. The glass blocks sit on rubber gaskets which in turn sit directly on the timber. A foam seal sits on the surface of the blocks to form a weatherproof movement joint, clear silicon forms a final weather seal.
The layered oak and laminated float glass produce an eerie, filtered light. The way the light moves around the house over the course of the day draws the user through it. In the morning low light floods the east with the glass acting as a prism that projects watery green lozenges over floors and walls. By midday, the sun is overhead, streaming through the roof light slot and penetrating the two-way mirror bridge giving views from the ground floor through the building. At night this is reversed, and the flames in the fireplace are visible through the floor of the landing.

International Design Awards, 3rd Place Architecture Category 2009
Shortlisted for the Bombay Sapphire Glass Award 2008
Winner of Architectural Record ‘Record House’ Award 2008
British Homes Awards ‘Best one-off House’ Award 2008
Shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival Awards 2008
Winner of Timber in Construction ‘Outstanding Design’ Award 2008
Shortlisted for World Architecture News 2008 House of the Year Award
RIBA Award 2007
Wood Award (Private Category)2007
Shortlisted for RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize 2007