MEMORY - SOAKED ON THE BANKS OF THE AVON
WATCH HOUSE, PILL, SOMERSET
A pair of cottages on the banks of the river Avon have been occupied by members of the same family for many generations. Whilst inhabited for at least two hundred years, the cottages flood most years, have no sewage connection, and only rudimentary electricity and water services. A reminder, if one was required, that “mod cons” really are modern. A few years ago however, the local authorities deemed the properties unfit for human habitation and imposed a closing order on them. It has now fallen on the current generation of the family to bring the cottages back into use, fit for future generations to enjoy.
Our involvement began when we were asked how to renovate the cottages, whilst somehow retaining the family memories that saturate the walls.
Our approach has been to strip out the interior structures such as partitions and floors that were literally crumbling, and to strip away the internal plaster finishes of what remains. This makes visible every chase, brick repair, stone cut and window alteration that has taken place decade upon decade. The accumulated architectural debris of hundreds of years.
Within the revealed shell, we inserted a new core that will house bathing and WC facilities, whilst providing structural stability for the replacement roof and existing walls. Around this core will wrap a folded metal stair.
At the river end of the cottage, we have opened tall new windows that reflect a new double height space within. The replacement roof brings into play the former loft space creating greater volume to the rooms. The impression of more space is reinforced by the windows filling the room with all the light and air of the expansive river views.
Strip-board timber clads the core and the under side of the roof, in a contemporary interpretation of a traditional cottage detail, a nod to some of the architectural features long since turned to dust.
The project is designed to be self build and will use highly sustainable materials. It will also introduce flood defences to bring the cottage in line with other properties in the village.