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Farmworker's House, Bude

Accommodation for a farm manager by Hugh Strange Architects is a very fine house that balances the agricultural and the domestic, the room and the whole, the humble and the grand. It is 2024 RIBA South West & Wessex Small Project of the Year

Farmworker's House.
Farmworker's House. Credit: Jason Orton

2024 RIBA South West & Wessex Award
2024 RIBA South West & Wessex Small Project of the Year

Farmworker's House, Bude
Hugh Strange Architects for Private Client
Contract value: Confidential
GIA: 175m2

This deceptively simple little house sits in a corner of a field on a working farm, a mile inland from the Cornish coast. The farm owner client commissioned the architects to provide accommodation for the farm manager and the house has an agricultural tie. The entrance elevation faces a new livestock shed that houses the cattle the manager needs to look after. Newly planted trees and an existing woodland to the south help shelter the house from the elements. A courtyard contains domestic activity, discouraging its spread across the agricultural domain and allowing the unmaintained field to be grazed right up to the outside walls. The relationships between house, shed and landscape are carefully considered such that each retains its distinct character while working harmoniously as an ensemble.

  • Farmworker's House.
    Farmworker's House. Credit: Jason Orton
  • Farmworker's House.
    Farmworker's House. Credit: Jason Orton
  • Farmworker's House.
    Farmworker's House. Credit: Jason Orton
  • Farmworker's House.
    Farmworker's House. Credit: Jason Orton
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Approached down a narrow road, the house is barely visible from beyond its immediate realm. It is single storey, with a pitched roof, and L-shaped in plan, like the more lowly buildings around a typical West Country farmyard. A wall closes off the other two sides of the L to create a delightful courtyard garden – a place for play, drying washing and growing vegetables. The house is heated by a ground-source heat pump, an invisible connection between the dwelling and the land.

You enter near the corner of the L, going straight ahead to a combined living, kitchen and dining space or turning right to a wing of three bedrooms. An office on the corner looks back towards the livestock shed. The interior is full of subtle moves that gently guide you and play with your perception of the spaces. A hierarchy is immediately established between the wide, full-height opening that leads down three steps to the open-plan living space and the small, domestic-scale doorway to the contrastingly cellular bedroom wing. The placing of a fireplace and two windows on the long north wall is reminiscent of a manor house. A small, high window on the gable meanwhile brings morning light filtering through the roof timbers as if in a barn.

  • Farmworker's House.
    Farmworker's House. Credit: Jason Orton
  • Farmworker's House.
    Farmworker's House. Credit: Jason Orton
  • Farmworker's House.
    Farmworker's House. Credit: Hugh Strange
  • Farmworker's House.
    Farmworker's House. Credit: Jason Orton
  • Farmworker's House.
    Farmworker's House. Credit: Jason Orton
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Moving around, you become aware that there is a very limited and consistent material palette. The home-grown Douglas fir roof structure is exposed throughout, something you can smell as well as see. All the floors are dark brick, recalling Victorian stable pavers, and the walls are unpainted lime plaster – a smoother, silkier version of the roughcast outside. The detailing is understated, more refined in areas like the ash door frames that you can touch, in contrast with the more agricultural galvanised connections in the roof. Behind the plaster, the walls are made from hollow clay blocks that exceed ever tighter building regulations requirements for U-values (the rate of heat transfer through a building element) and airtightness without the need for additional insulation, membranes or a cavity.

Through rigorous discipline and judgement, the architects have achieved a taut balance between the agricultural and the domestic, the room and the whole, the humble and the grand. This is a very fine house.

See the rest of the RIBA South West & Wessex winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here.

To see the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com.

RIBA Regional Awards 2024 sponsored by EH Smith and Autodesk

Credits

Contractor GTL Construction

Structural engineer Price & Myers

Environmental/M&E engineer Ritchie+Daffin

 

Credit: Hugh Strange Architects
Credit: Hugh Strange Architects
Credit: Hugh Strange Architects
Credit: Hugh Strange Architects
Credit: Hugh Strange Architects
Credit: Hugh Strange Architects

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