Old School House

Bindloss Dawes Architects

Old School House is a Grade II listed property situated in the picturesque Brue Valley in Somerset. Set within the small hamlet of Pitcombe, the original building was constructed as the village School in 1864. Converted into a home after the second world war, the building underwent a number of further changes including an unsympathetic extension in the 1970s. The client’s brief was to create a larger contemporary replacement for this extension which should be both sustainable and sympathetic to the existing school house.

Drawing inspiration from the scale and proportion of the original School House, a design was developed that was both distinct and sensitive to the existing architecture. The new 1450sqft extension offered three new bedrooms and bathrooms and is clad in locally sourced English sweet chestnut. Chestnut was chosen for its sustainability, stability, and elegant grain, but also because of how it weathers, meaning that over the years the whole extension will mellow into a light silvery grey, complementing the weathered, locally-quarried Hadspen stone of the main house. Different designs for the timber cladding were explored, testing vertical and horizontal compositions in models and maquettes. The result was an open arrangement at roof and first floor levels, allowing rainwater to pass through the cladding and drain via hidden gutters, with a broader, closed board at ground level, breaking up the mass of the overall building. Bespoke chestnut pivot-windows were made to match the cladding, avoiding surface treatment to allow the whole building to weather evenly.