Baker's Farmhouse

Baker’s Farmhouse sits on the edge of the Weald of Kent - an area of countryside renowned for its natural beauty and ancient woodlands that stretches out across into the neighbouring counties of Sussex and Surrey. Within this historic rural landscape medieval Hall houses are still visible and you can still find many timber framed buildings. Baker’s Farmhouse is a Grade 2 Listed building - the original core of the property dating from the early 1400s with extension during the 16th and 20th centuries.

The architectural concept was to create an extension to the property reading as a continuation of the traditional solid enclosing garden wall from the front and side elevations contrasted by a light weight glazed façade facing the rear garden. Using bricks to match the existing, the proposed walls step in elevation to follow the topography of the site whilst being multi layered in plan to provide depth and form a concealed opening to the garden beyond. The new extension provides a bespoke open-plan kitchen which allows an area of the existing house to return to its original state. The rest of the plan allows for a dining space which will open out onto the new terrace and garden beyond.

The link through from the existing building takes place in an area where previous work had been undertaken as is evident from the mix of brick and mortar types where a former doorway had been bricked up. This careful intervention has resulted in no loss of significant historic fabric. The glazed link forms a direct break between the old and the new - when walking through the link it is possible to look up and see the existing rear façade. Stepping down into the new extension the existing stone floor of what was once the kitchen meets seamlessly with new wide limestone steps, which flow into the new limestone tiled floor; next to which is a bespoke polished plaster bench seat. On the opposite side of the link a discrete glass handrail follows the steps, next to which is a niche designed to incorporate the client’s artwork

The extension has a modest feel in terms of scale when viewed against the existing property – the design is set down below the internal floor level and does not dominate but rather integrates with its setting. The extension has been carefully designed to ensure that its height is subservient to the host dwelling and that the interface between the old and the new is coherent and clearly expressed. The choice of external materials has also been carefully selected to reflect the surrounding vernacular – the use of red brickwork echoes the existing property and the garden walls, the zinc roof cappings reference the lead flashings to the existing house and the slim dark frames to the sliding doors provides a visual link to the black leaded windows of the original house.

From the kitchen the garden has been landscaped to incorporate hidden steps so the views out flow seamlessly into the garden beyond. The benefits of the large areas of glazing are two-fold - when open the views are directed back to the existing building fabric yet when closed the elements of glazing allow for the reflections of the surrounding brick and timber cladding with the trees and sky helping the extension to effectively vanish into its landscaping, leaving only the ultra slim capping visible and retaining the view of the existing timber building above. At night the building is illuminated by discrete external lights set into the surrounding steps and terrace. Internally, the building incorporates recessed lights in the ceiling and walls and a feature strip light which delineates the kitchen island and dining areas.

A feature glass box punctures through the external brick wall to hint at the contemporary architecture behind which includes the modern kitchen with concealed fixtures and a recessed bookcase. Views out look directly onto an old well in one of the side gardens which is also illuminated at night.

The minimalist details and simple palette of materials allow this addition to contrast yet complement the traditional architecture and provide an entertaining space throughout the year where the owners, both of whom are avid gardeners, are able to connect with their surrounding garden.

Published on 7 June 2017

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