Sitting in low meadows that roll down to the sea about half a mile away, this 400-year-old cottage has been sensitively repurposed into a home. The Cornish Cottage possesses an ancient vernacular with roots once serving domestic and agricultural functions. The renovation of the house was conceived as a set of clearer defined spaces that act as routes through the property connecting the land to the sea. Although drafty and spatially problematic, clients loved life within its breathing walls, and were passionately fond of the old house. From these factors and through an ambition to work sustainably, the design retains and adapts the agricultural structure by providing organisation of spaces, improving its thermal envelope, and designates a new use as a rugged, dependable home for a family that enjoys the outdoors.
A link was drawn between the house and the ancient boat building techniques that survive in the local area, displayed through the careful and visibly human crafted details throughout the building. The project’s main challenges lay in the building’s long linear form and a compartmented internal volume, the house being a sequence of numerous smaller rooms. Retaining the character of the building was a necessity, however, in many places the design sought to amplify the legibility of certain elements. There was a wish to create a theatricality through errant walls and floors, which would betray the houses long history and a specific relationship to the coastline. The motive was to speak of a rising and falling motion, swell and eddy, crest and comber.