Pass with ­distinction

Rising above the obvious is the mark of a good house extension – here are two with a difference

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David Rea Architects has made a new landscape in the Sussex Weald.
David Rea Architects has made a new landscape in the Sussex Weald.

The house extension is one of the staples of good architecture, a professional calling card. In a world of glass-box add-ons, it’s a challenge to come up with something distinctively different.  But this is what these two rural examples achieve. Both exploit the aesthetic virtues of lead sheet and both use it for facing as well as roofing, playing off other materials.

For architect David Rea, his garden room pavilion in Forest Row, Sussex, is ‘a new smaller landscape of construction’ in the Wealden landscape of tightly rolling hills. Attached to a typical mellow brick-and-tile old Sussex house, it expresses itself in a very different manner. 

‘The way the building sits bedded in the contours of the site is made even more natural by the forms and materials used,’ he says. ‘Two dominant and interlocking forms express the articulation of the internal space, defining it further by a contrasting use of two natural materials, lead and timber. Glass screens provide views to the surrounding gardens.’

A raised floor level for the central pavilion ensures the best views. It’s a masonry structure clad entirely in patinated lead sheet. ‘The soft and worked appearance of the patinated lead which clads both roof and walls is divided by welts to give definition to the form,’ says Rea. He uses triangular lead fixings as a subtle decorative device. The colour works especially well with the silvery-grey weathered Siberian larch. 

Over in Somerset, meanwhile, architect Designscape has built a different kind of garden room, straight off the kitchen of an old Bath-stone village house, to make a new dining room. ‘Despite the contemporary design of the new room, we were keen to respond to the historic nature of the host building and use a sympathetic and traditional material in a modern manner,’ says project architect Mark Wray. ‘Unlike other cladding and roofing solutions, it is a high quality, recyclable and long-lasting material that has both a warmth and character to it, which enabled us to achieve a timeless quality to the architecture.’

Designscape adapted details from the Rolled Lead Sheet technical manual, having consulted LSA technical officers and the local sub-contractor that warranted the work.  Code 6 lead is used throughout – for vertical cladding and roof finish, as well as the box gutter and flashings to the horizontal rooflight.  A highly-insulated roof and high performance glazing make it thermally efficient.

‘This collaborative approach at the design stage, combined with the high skill levels and experience of the leadworkers on site, enabled a smooth construction process,’ says Wray. The building was shortlisted for this year’s RIBA Awards. 

Innox Lodge, by Designscape, on the edge of a Somerset village, blends solidity with transparency set against Bath Stone.
Innox Lodge, by Designscape, on the edge of a Somerset village, blends solidity with transparency set against Bath Stone.

Telling detail - Moorfield Hotel, Shetlands

Pretty much every new building in Shetland has to be prefabricated, and this is true of the 100-bedroom Moorfield Hotel  by Ica Architects in Brae. But this did not preclude traditional finishing materials as used round the islands: render, locally sourced stone, and leadwork.

The bulk of this three-storey building is reduced by the use of a sequence of dormer windows to the second floor bedrooms. In fact they are more than dormers. ‘The second-floor bedroom modules are clad in lead sheet which disguises the fact that they are full bedroom modules and creates the illusion of dormers within the roofscape,’ says Ica’s Nicholas Roberts. Neat leadwork in this exposed location by Fultons Plumbers.