The distinction between new and old always evident
RIBA National Award winner 2021
RIBA North West Award winner 2021
Woollacott Gilmartin Architects for private client
Contract value: undisclosed
This project displays considerable inventiveness and sensitivity in meeting the challenges of transforming a remarkable, but decaying, group of historic buildings into a 21st century family home. Considerable love and care have gone into the works, from both client and architect, and have resulted in a scheme of real delight and personality.
Highly characterful, and displaying multiple layers of history, the buildings sit in a spectacular setting at the head of a valley. The works enhance both building and landscape, removing modern farming structures and extensive areas of hardstanding. Externally the interventions are modest and understated, responding to the qualities and materials of the historic structures. The 14th century Pele Tower’s character as a ruin has been successfully retained by deeply recessing new glazing within the massive depth of the walls, creating shadow externally and beautifully illuminating reveals internally.
Inside, the project unfolds in a series of episodic events reflecting the diverse age, significance and character of the different elements of the existing buildings. Historic elements, however humble, have been retained. Modern additions can be clearly read as distinct from the historic fabric, maintaining an effective dialogue between the new and old parts of the whole.
Despite an apparent lightness of touch, the scheme works hard to upgrade the environmental performance of the retained existing buildings to modern standards while working within the considerable conservation challenges of the listed buildings. Careful upgrading of the existing fabric has realised significant benefits – both in reducing energy use and in creating a more comfortable place to live. This is complemented by renewable energy generation from ground source heat pumps, and a micro-hydroelectric scheme which produces more energy than the house consumes, further reducing its carbon footprint.