Historic buildings should retain their visual integrity as far as possible, whilst at the same time allowing for the reasonable aspirations and needs of a growing family, and to do so in a way that uses sustainable materials in a design that is both recognisably contemporary yet appropriate to the setting – this was how we approached the intervention at La Petite Cache.
The brief required a kitchen to be incorporated into the redundant barn attached to the house, in order to make a valuable and on-going use for a dilapidated building which had little current value. It would also be advantageous to link the attached barn to the run of adjacent detached barns, which run at right angles to the south of the house and attached barn; this would bring them into domestic use, and again allow upgrading and repair to ensure that they are conserved and retained in good condition for the foreseeable future.
The trickiest aspect of this project was that some of the most interesting historic features are located on the attractive pink granite north gable of the detached barn, including a flight of external steps (in need of careful repair and reinstatement), and small window openings. The link is therefore designed to encompass these elements, and make the north gable, including the steps and openings, a strong feature within the new building. A new opening in the south wall of the attached barn removes the need for substantial rebuilding and underpinning of the existing gable wall, and at the same time brings borrowed light into the barn, whilst allowing the newly covered (and currently awkward-shaped) area between the barns to come into valuable use as part of the family space, whilst also giving covered access to the detached barns. The historic features of the barns have become important elements of the finished building and salvaged materials were reused wherever possible.
The link extension is designed to be recognisably contemporary; and thus clearly not a pastiche of the original buildings, yet to have an agricultural spirit with the use of timber boarding and a metal clad roof, which is entirely appropriate for the setting.