Townsend Farmhouse

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Client
Location
East Devon
Photography
Richard Downer
Our clients needed an architect in East Devon to provide them with a Full Architectural Service for their kitchen extension to a Grade II* listed thatched house in East Devon..

van Ellen + Sheryn were approached by the owners of a Grade II* listed house in East Devon, with the wish to improve and extend their home into the substantial garden setting. The existing kitchen provision was cramped; with low ceilings, poor layout, and no connection to the views out towards the Blackdown hills. The house is historically important in the local area, with areas of thirteenth century timber structure in the roof. However, it had been unsympathetically adapted and extended on the garden elevation in the past, and the owners wished to remove these additions and create something new and unique whilst respecting the heritage and quality of the existing thatch and stone house.

We soon arrived at the solution of a twisting thatch roof that extends out into the garden and rises up at one corner to provide volume and clear views out to the garden and countryside. An oak truss structure, cleverly engineered, would cantilever and ‘hang’ the roof over a corner of structural glass and slimline glazing – combining very modern techniques and materials with the very traditional forms of thatch and timber frame. Chert (local flint) stone walls would extend out from the house and provide a buttress to this roof form, and a further material reference back to the original house.

Whilst this is yet to be realised, we feel it a design of unique quality and character, and hope to explore a similar approach if the opportunity were to arise again.

When we started, we weren’t even sure what it was we wanted and it wasn’t until about the ‘Mark VII’ version that we finally felt brave enough to give the go ahead. During this ‘design gestation’ we felt embarrassed at our lack of direction but our indecision was met with patience and guidance until the final layout was agreed…everything was handled with smooth professionalism including the planning process with Dartmoor National Park.

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