Becconsall Farm annexe is a C19 former farmhands’ cottage conjoined to a barn conversion, in the settlement of Lower Bartle, to the rural West of Preston, Lancashire. Although modest in scale, the project demonstrates the complexities inherent in any response to an established setting. Here, restrictions of footprint and external appearance were tested to establish a spatial arrangement exceeding the client brief, taking the opportunity also to substantially upgrade the thermal performance of the dwelling.

As part of a larger dwelling, the annexe provides self-contained living accommodation with access to the family home and gardens. The existing building layout was restricted by poor circulation, including internal rooms, and a staircase (the means of escape) opening into the kitchen.

MgMaStudio/ were approached by the client to reconfigure the internal arrangement to provide additional family living space, self-contained but still linked to the main barn. The spatial brief was to provide two self contained bedrooms and a shower room to the first floor, with a kitchen/diner, living room, and wc/cloak to the ground floor. The client brief specified no alterations to the external appearance of the dwelling, and no extension to the existing footprint.

Given the constraints of existing window locations, the scheme is a considered, compact reconfiguration, principally articulated through the realigned staircase. Entrance from the front of the property is maintained, however the principle entrance is from the rear. A simple rationalisation of the kitchen delivers a small dining area, and the new staircase facilitates valuable built-in storage in the living room.

Principle vertical surfaces are articulated using flat tones, with linear oak boards providing warmth and texture in the living room. New internal wall insulation achieves a substantial upgrade in the thermal performance of the external walls without altering their outward appearance, and with a minimal sacrifice to the internal spatial arrangement.


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