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.

My husband and I are in the process of turning a damp-infested. nastily converted barn from the 1980’s into what we hope will be a beautiful, architecturally interesting base in cornwall. We are ambitious for it but like most people, don’t have an endless pot of money. We are also completely new to anything like this. We’ve never even used an architect before. We met many, most of whom were based closer but it was perfectly obvious to both of us that Eilir and his team were the ones we wanted to use despite their practice being Devon, not Cornwall based. Logistically it’s not as sensible but in every other respect they far outclassed everyone else we met. We loved their work and felt our aesthetic was similar. Plus we felt we’d get on as people. And be able to lean on them when things got stressful as they inevitably will do!

We are yet to begin the build but have done the design and got planning approval, undoubtedly thanks to Van Ellen & Sheryn. Eilir and David contributed so much to getting the design through planning, really working with the council to ensure it would get approval. It is quite a brave design for a barn so we hadn’t expected it to be so smooth but Van Ellen & Sheryn managed to achieve our mutual ambition for the project, whilst at the same time satisfying any potential concerns the council might have.

What is also hugely helpful is how promptly and thoroughly they respond to concerns or silly questions we might have. I feel I always have counsel when I need it, someone I can lean on, who I trust, for advice. We have expensive taste but not really the budget to back it up! Going into the next set of drawings, that is something that has worried us, but we have been able to lean on Van Ellen & Sheryn who are advising us on bringing the costs down on the build so they hit our budget.

Beautiful, interesting, sympathetic design generated by lovely, talented people who have given us lots of time and attention when we ask for it. And they have great knowledge – and taste. From my experience so far, they are a class act.

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