The Gardener’s Retreat

Some pictures of one of our latest projects:

The Gardener’s Retreat is a two storey extension to a workshop building, on a large private estate. It houses secure stores for sensitive material, with a tightly controlled humidity and temperature range, meeting and office rooms reached across a timber bridge, and wc / tea point facilities. These spaces are enclosed in a timber framed and clad structure. A sheltered undercroft, built half into the sloping ground, provides tool and seed storage and a gardeners’ washroom. The project also included generous landscaping, and an innovative weather screened open air work and storage area, in softwood sleepers.

We have made extensive use of timber, particularly oak, consistently from the primary structure, in Green Oak, through to external cladding, internal flooring, and bespoke joinery and fittings. Softwood has been used for maximum economy of cost and material, where strength and exposure to the elements is not a primary concern.

The structure is exposed externally. Green oak was chosen as the primary structure for its durability, strength, heritage, and low carbon footprint and maintenance requirements. Seasoned oak fixed horizontally was used for the external cladding. It too requires little maintenance and is relatively cheap.

Gaps between the oak cladding boards allow air to circulate freely; where we have doors, this air circulation can become the room’s natural ventilation, via the inward opening of specially designed shutters. A naturally cooled and ventilated user-operable internal environment is achieved by opening these high and low level shutters in the external timber doors. They are a sustainable alternative to power-hungry air conditioning systems.

Views through large sheets of glass, of the idyllic landscape are framed by robustly sized oak surrounds, which convey to the occupants a powerful sense of enclosure and protection from the elements, vital for human comfort. All glass is directly glazed between the external structure and internal joinery, to maximise the view out, and natural light in, and to avoid the expense and fiddle of secondary frames. This maintains the simplicity and legibility of the timber framing, from both the inside and the outside.

Copper roof sheet and flashings protect vulnerable oak members and joints, and junctions between glass and timber. Although relatively expensive, copper will require less maintenance, and give the building a longer working life. In addition, it will hold its value, making it attractive to recycle when it reaches the end of its working life, on this building.

Oak, copper, zinc and concrete are used as a palette of materials sympathetic to each other and to the functions and the context of the extension and its surroundings. They are intended to change gently and to mellow over time, and settle quietly into the leafy site.

The Gardeners’ Retreat is a quiet, thoughtful, confident demonstration of how timber – and complementary materials – can be used elegantly on a building, and detailed to provide a cost effective, low maintenance, long lasting, attractive environment in a sensitive setting. In a time of restraint and austerity, it shows that small can be beautiful.

2 thoughts on “The Gardener’s Retreat

  1. […] is looking great in the late summer evening sun, filtering through the trees surrounding the Gardener’s Retreat & Delicate Objects Repository, as the project nears completion. In time the materials will mellow and settle into their […]

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