The Dovecote Studio

London architects Haworth Tompkins have inserted a Corten steel artist’s studio into a ruined Victorian dovecote in Suffolk, UK. Called The Dovecote Studio, the structure has a pitched rood and occupies the same space as the original building’s interior. A skylight in the north side of the roof illuminates the plywood interior, which includes a mezzanine with a desk and corner window overlooking marshes towards the sea. The steel was welded together to form a watertight box, constructed on-site and lifted into the brick shell by a crane. Here is some more information from the architects:
The Dovecote Studio forms part of the internationally renowned music campus at Snape Maltings, founded by Benjamin Britten in derelict industrial buildings on the Suffolk coast. Britten was inspired by the almost abstract landscape of the reedbeds at the boundary between the land and the sea: the ruins of a nineteenth century dovecote sit directly on this boundary, looking out across the marshes. The Dovecote Studio inhabits the ruins and expresses the internal volume of the Victorian structure as a Cor-ten steel ‘lining’, a monocoque welded structure that was built next to the ruin and craned in when complete. The building is fully welded in a single piece, like the hull of a ship, to achieve weather tightness, and then fitted with a simple plywood inner lining. A large north light roof window provides even light for artists, while a small mezzanine platform with a writing desk incorporates a fully opening glazed corner window that gives long views over the marshes towards the sea. The single volume will be used by artists in residence (it can operate as a simple bedsitting room with a compact kitchen), by musicians as rehearsal or performance space (there is a large opening door to an adjoining courtyard), by staff for meetings or as a temporary exhibition space. Only the minimum necessary brickwork repairs were carried out to stabilize the existing ruin prior to the new structure being inserted. Decaying existing windows were left alone and vegetation growing over the dovecot was protected to allow it to continue a natural process of ageing and decay. Prior to the Cor-ten structure being inserted, a new drainage channel was cast to falls at base level to ensure that water running down between the old and the new structures is channelled to accessible drainage points at the door thresholds. The interior walls and ceiling of the space are insulated, sealed with a high-performance vapour control layer, and lined with spruce plywood to create a timber ‘box’ within the Cor-ten shell. Laminated plywood sheets also form the stairs, balustrade and mezzanine structure. 



10 photos and 5 drawings

Building Activity

  • updated a digital reference
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