Little England Farm – Oast

Hadlow Down, East Sussex

Project: Litle England Farm – Phase 1

Oast House

Contract Sum: £516K

Build rate: £1550/m2

Clients: Private

Main Contractor: R Durtnell & Sons Ltd.

Responsibilities: Architect/ Lead Consultant

Completion Date: July 2012

The Oast House is a form of construction common in the south east of England. This is a fine example of a Sussex Double Oast dating form the early 1800’s and is Grade 2 listed.

The building had generally fallen into a state of various disrepair. The ground floor was used for external garden storage. The first floor had been converted in the 1980’s to ancillary accommodation but generally the internal environment was very poor. Furthermore the surrounding context areas were not found to be befitting a listed property. In the foreground to the Oast on the south side was a very crude concrete paving slabed walled area and swimming pool. The surrounding retaining walls were original.

Through negotiation with the local Planning Authority, we were permitted to significantly refurbish the internal aspects of the building so long as the external areas were made to be more sympathetic to a listed building. The 1980’s pool and hard standing were removed and a more natural, read filtered freshwater pool was added with sun deck and walled garden.

The clients brief was to refurbish the Oast to form ensuite bedroom accommodation on the ground floor, and family living accommodation on the first floor, whilst at the same time protecting and improving the original building fabric where appropriate, energy efficiency and services. The project sought to strike a balance between the original agricultural building fabric and its counter point, a more modern and minimalist internal aesthetic.

The general approach externally was to return the building to its original appearance and carry out sympathetic repairs where necessary. Areas of the existing brickwork were replaced with hand selected reclaimed brickwork, and in other areas the existing brickwork was re-pointed using lime mortar. An unsympathetic re-modelling of the window openings on the south and west elevations was reversed and all windows were replaced with improved performing unfinished oak double glazed casement windows. External doors were also replaced, with external barn doors added to echo the original matchboard doors that had been removed.

During the course of the works it was confirmed that the main roof space was a protected bat habitat. In satisfying the requirements of Natural England as part of the negotiations, the client took the decision to re-roof the existing building to give the buildings structure further longevity and protection, with hand made Keymer clay peg tiles and 2 new Oast Cowels.

Internally, the existing ground floor as existing was bare earth. This coupled with the low floor to ceiling height and the building being somewhat unusually cut into a steeply sloping bank, led to the building being under pinned and the ground floor level reduced considerably prior to a new water proofed tanking system and insulation. All external walls are dry lined and insulted to a level which improves on current Building Regulations.

Along the length of the ground floor and below the Oasts are a number of ensuite bedrooms, all finished to a very high standard. A particular feature of the ground floor is a power floated concrete screed. The screed uses recycled aggregates and substitutes Portland cement with pulverised fuel ash to reduce the overall carbon footprint.

On the first floor, the original ceilings were all removed and the ceiling levels raised to a higher-level below the Oast’s, and exposing the original timber roof structure along the barn, creating living accommodation with a raised ceiling height sand much improved scale. The original timber structure was treated and exposed with feature lighting. The larger space forms a large multifunctional family space, and below the Oasts a living room, kitchen and dining area. Through out the first floor, due to the need to remove the existing floor to install new services, inparticular under floor heating, a new Oak floor was installed. The 2 floors are linked by a new bespoke steel framed winding staircase with oak treads to match the first floor treatment which runs throughout and improves the continuity of the spaces.

All newly installed lighting fittings are low energy and low water usage fittings in bathrooms throughout.

Interiors, Residential