Acomb High House is a Grade II listed building, situated within the Conservation Area. It had been altered and extended with the earliest part dating back to the late 17th century.

Mosedale Gillatt sought to address a variety of building problems and to correct them as part of a comprehensive restoration and repair of the property. Where new work was included, this was to be high quality and contemporary in nature.

The client’s commitment to the use of sustainable and conservation methodologies meant that the design team were able to engage with a range of materials which were sympathetic to the building fabric, whilst offering 21st century energy efficiency. The ground floor low walls were finished with a cork insulated lime render, the main eighteenth century part of the house was treated to lime plaster repair and skim. Sheep’s wool insulation was included within the loft spaces and beneath the exposed floor boarding to allow a fully breathing construction to be created. All new pointing was carried out in a lime mortar and stone tile and Westmorland slate roofs recovered authentically.

Alongside sympathetic repairs and improvements to the existing building, the proposals included the demolition of a later extension, which housed utility spaces with limited light and story height, destroying any relationship between the house and garden. This was replaced with a new extension constructed to form a breakfast room at ground floor and bathroom at first. This new element was designed to meet the older building lightly – continuing the historic building line and offering glazed junctions where old meets new, allowing the symmetry of the existing structure to be ‘read’.  Where the principle junction occurred with the existing building at first floor level, a rooflight was installed to highlight the event and provide daylight to a dark circulation route.

The selection of materials was key to highlighting the form and appearance of the existing building -sweet chestnut and zinc cladding helped provide a foil against heavy masonry for the new extension, whilst frameless glazing allows the line between inside and outside to be blurred. Minimal detailing seeks to highlight the junctions between light and heavy materials and ‘celebrates’ the junctions of new and old.

The relationship to the garden is a key driver of this project – a 17th century carved lintol, salvaged from a demolished shed was reused within the new walling to echo the form of earlier buildings and creates a sense of enclosure, harnessing the fine views over the hillside and beyond.

RIBA North East Awards 2016 – Shortlisted