30th May 2018 by Daniella Quaglia
Walking through a property and imagining what it could be is not a skill that everyone is blessed with. The ability to see beyond the existing and plan a new shape to a building takes creativity, knowledge and experience. Take Middle Farm House in Cuxham – we knew there was something that could be done to transform the listed cottage, an old dairy and a large timber framed barn into a modern home but we didn’t have the know how to translate our thoughts into the marketing. We luckily knew a woman who had the skills we needed. Sarah Wolstenholme of Wolstenholme Architects.
Sarah spent a day at Middle Farm House and spent weeks planning her vision for the home. The results are a connected home with large open plan spaces, intimate rooms and a flow into the garden and countryside beyond. Sounds simple but without the knowledge and vision of an architect we would have been selling a pipe dream. Buyers can now understand how the house could be altered and we hope to inspire them to think about what the house could become and how it could be a perfect family home.
We asked Sarah to describe her vision for Middle Farm House:
With regards to my thoughts behind the proposals, I have tried to keep changes to the main Listed house quite minimal, the main changes being the removal of the unattractive modern extensions, and the introduction of new windows to improve the visual connection with the rear garden and views beyond. The cow shed conversion would be upgraded, and turned into more of a master bedroom suite or annexe. This room and the Living Room have been shown to open out onto a central landscaped courtyard area, providing direct amenity space for both rooms.
The main barn has been shown to be converted into one large open-plan and open-volume space, to respect and retain the structure and historic fabric of the barn. A mezzanine level has been introduced over the Kitchen, with a double height Family/Dining Room connecting onto the rear garden with large gable glazing.
The main house, annexe and converted barn are shown to be connected through a contemporary glazed link, whose minimal appearance will provide a light link that allows the historic main buildings to shine through and be the dominant elements. Also kept minimal in size, it allows the existing Living Room and new landscaped courtyard to have an almost direct link to rear garden, and provides good visual links from these spaces to the garden and attractive countryside beyond.
The design elements, eg the gable glazing and glazed link, are quite minimally shown due to the obvious time constraints, but if the proposals were to be developed then these are elements that can provide beautiful modern additions to the attractive historic buildings, and create an exciting new contemporary chapter in the story of the building and how it has changed over the centuries.
The conversion of the barn ordinarily might prove contentious in Planning terms, however, given its (now) domestic setting and obvious decline, if it isn’t converted then the Planners would face losing this historic building entirely, so we feel there would be a very strong planning argument for its conversion.