Brendon Estate Farm, a refurbishment, extension and barn conversion in Brendon Hills, Somerset
№ 2

Brendon Estate Farm — Refurbishment, Extension + Barn Conversion Somerset

Set in a picturesque valley in the Brendon Hills this property was originally three farms that had become amalgamated and where farming activities had begun to overwhelm the domestic accommodation. Our brief was to create a master plan that allowed for family enjoyment and activities and which avoided conflict with farming operations. This included refurbishment and extension of the principal farmhouse to create a comfortable and spacious modern family home, with renovation and conversion of adjoining traditional outbuildings to provide ancillary accommodation. Set in the countryside, access, aspect and views were an important consideration, while the steeply sloping surrounding ground meant that easy passage around the complex could be challenging.

By linking the house and an adjacent traditional barn, a striking entrance hall was created with conversion and extension of the barn into a light airy kitchen/dining room and snug. Using traditional oak framed construction these lofty spaces have a modern yet comforting feel. Creative space-making reduced the linear arrangement of the earlier farmhouse and opened it out through addition of a new curved staircase. The accommodation rearranged and extended to offer 5 bedrooms including a master suite, two reception rooms and a study as well as new utility and boot room space.

These improvements have lessened the impact of the immediate surroundings by creating courtyards or terraces front and back that the interior rooms give access onto. These in turn flow into the garden and on to the gym and home office, created by renovation of further traditional barns, and new stables, garages, workshop, and a tennis court.

Our role was to design and implement the proposals, providing a full architectural service from concept to completion of construction work that in addition to improving the accommodation and space-making, included working with protected wildlife and making sure services into and out of the complex were capable of meeting modern demands.

“Really loved the design, thought it was really imaginative, contemporary yet appropriate for the site. Loved the variation of treatment between the two parts of the building.” — Client

Whilst not implemented, these designs illustrate the considerations given, as well as the creativity and delight that can be included in a private pool scheme.

Positioning of a pool is important to encourage regular use, as is its setting in the landscape. Here, the steeply sloping valley sides surrounding the Farmhouse provided the natural opportunity for a sheltered terrace supplemented by screen planting, and the orientation of the building captures solar gain with PV panels also included.

The pool was designed to be long enough to allow exercise, to have a shallow play area with funky water slide and a space for lounging.

Most indoor pools will need planning consent, although outdoor pools, or those housed in a separate building, do not necessarily require consent. To ensure future enjoyment and ease of use, early engagement with the pool installer is worthwhile so that adequate provision for plant, water treatment and pool environment is allowed.

Estate or farm buildings are rarely the crown jewels of a working farm, rather key workspaces for activities, which with more modern machinery and methods of farming have made many of these traditional buildings redundant. Successful conversion is always a balance between understanding the traditional building and its qualities, and inserting of new work to make it suitable for current use. With respect for the existing structure targeted insertions or salvaging and reuse can retain character and offers cost effective improvement.

In this instance the challenge was to keep the buildings stable while the roofs were replaced and floors reinstated. With differing floor levels due to the steeply sloping ground, careful phasing of excavations and drainage work, coupled with consideration of the new structure and internal arrangement brought the buildings new life.