An unanticipated rethink of plans ultimately developed a dialogue between the historical and contemporary in architect Richard Found’s stone house in the UK’s Cotswolds.
The original early 19th-century gatekeeper’s cottage set on a 16-acre site of woodlands and lake was bought by architect Richard Found of London-based practice Found Associates, with plans for a county retreat for himself and his family. He had ambitious plans for a new build when a Grade 2 heritage listing scuppered any notions of demolition and instead demanded a re-think of the approach to the site. “The local planners were very keen for the cottage to remain the dominant feature on the site therefore the extension needed to be set back,” he says.
The interior is minimal but warm – due to the natural elements – the stone and even the stacks of wood for the fire. The restricted material palette inside and out is a tremendous unifying factor but within that allows for a play of textures – rough and smooth, natural and manmade, irregular and precise.
No doubt, taking a deep breath, he developed a dialogue between the historical and the contemporary. “I now love the relationship between the old and new; the restrictions only made the project more interesting in my mind,” he notes.
The ingenious design solution was to tuck the new buildings into the landscape, reducing the perception of built form by using local stone in a series of dry-stone field walls. “These walls descend down the slope of the land behind the cottage articulating the new building into three sections – the entrance and link to the cottage at the same floor level, a lower section to the west housing the main living areas and a raised wing to the east set further back into the slope which provides the more private spaces of the bedroom accommodation,” says the architect.
“I instantly relax upon arrival at the property. The tranquillity and isolation definitely provide the perfect backdrop conducive to creative thinking.”
– Richard Found
The orientation of the site was fortunately south-facing letting daylight pour through the new glazed sections of the building. Richard says the last 30 minutes of evening sun is on the lake “make for a fabulous view” from the main living room.
The roof is considered the fourth elevation, as the building only emerges from the ground on three sides. What unites the buildings and reduces visual distraction is the restricted material palette. “The landscape was what I fell in love with originally and I became obsessed with the view looking down to the lake or looking up the valley. I enjoy the smoothness of the concrete against the irregularity of the cottage stone. However, it was important to me to tonally match the two,” says Found.
This setting between woodland and water is remarkable, and Found has been able to make the most of daylight. “I think we were lucky with the orientation of the site as it is south facing, so we get an incredible amount of sun pouring into the glazed sections of the building,” he says.
As a family, they are drawn to the different qualities of space within the new and old parts of the house at certain times of day, season and occasion. “We usually enjoy spending most of the day in the main house then coming into the cottage for evening drinks with a roaring fire. If we have guests, we seem to use all areas of the house at different times of the weekend. One night we may have drinks on the roof terrace, another in the main living room below. All card or board games take place after dinner in the intimacy of the cottage.”
With an interior that is minimal but warm – often due to the natural elements such as the characterful stone and the irregular stacks of wood for the fire – it provides a context of calm. “I instantly relax upon arrival at the property. The tranquillity and isolation definitely provide the perfect backdrop conducive to creative thinking,” he says. ‘It’s the perfect place to write, paint, and design, as well as being a place where we love to entertain as a family. It is the tonic required for our frenetic lives in London.”
This feature originally appeared in est Magazine issue #43.
Initially, Richard says he had planned to make the cottage more open-planned but realised it made more sense to respect its layout and scale. He decided the cottage should be restored as sympathetically as possible to its original aesthetic.