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March 27, 2015
Chris Dyson Architects created a contemporary extension to a traditional cottage in the heart of the Cotswolds.
Gasworks Barn full exterior, England

An envelope of Cor-Ten steel clads the structure’s timber frame. “We drew on and referenced the use of corrugated steel sheet in 20th-century agricultural buildings and the way rusted steel fits into the existing range of materials in this area,” Whittaker explains. It was difficult to find a supplier in the UK, though, as Cor-Ten is much harder than typical steel and manufacturers can be wary of producing it. In the end, the team was able to procure it locally from Hollywood Design in London.

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Gasworks Barn meeting of structures, England

The two structures meet at the cottage’s northeastern end, where the contrast between them—the rough warmth of local stone and the rusty patina of Cor-Ten steel—is most striking. 

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Gasworks Barn Portico, England

A glass-fronted portico leads from the cottage’s kitchen past four bedrooms to the new tower, accessed by a sculptural rectangular staircase. “The courtyard glazing is designed to open up this walkway to the outside and to brake up its sense of division,” Whittaker says. 

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Gasworks Barn Horseshoe Courtyard, England

The addition forms a horseshoe around a buried brick pit from the original gasworks building. During construction, workers unearthed a large valve and its associated pipework, the only historic features of the plant to survive. The owners plan to display them in the central courtyard as a reminder of the site’s former life.

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Gasworks Barn Silo, England

A circular tower echoes the former gas storage cylinder that once occupied its place. It houses a private study.

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Gasworks Barn exterior, England

The home’s carbon footprint is small. The architect installed green technologies like Warmcell Insulation, made from recycled waste paper, and an external air source heat pump, which absorbs warmth from the outside and transfers it to a subfloor system. Other sustainable features include passive ventilation, roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, a biomass boiler room, and rainwater harvesting systems.

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Gasworks Barn windows recalling romanticist painting

The architects arranged the windows to enclose romantic views worthy of British painter Thomas Gainsborough. The painted black timber sashing from local company Shield Woodworking itself recalls a painting’s frame

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Gasworks Barn Silo and Portico, England

“This has been a fascinating project,” Whittaker says. “It ties together issues of sustainability, adaptation, and alteration to a historic industrial structure and building within an area of outstanding natural beauty.”

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Gasworks Barn full exterior, England

An envelope of Cor-Ten steel clads the structure’s timber frame. “We drew on and referenced the use of corrugated steel sheet in 20th-century agricultural buildings and the way rusted steel fits into the existing range of materials in this area,” Whittaker explains. It was difficult to find a supplier in the UK, though, as Cor-Ten is much harder than typical steel and manufacturers can be wary of producing it. In the end, the team was able to procure it locally from Hollywood Design in London.

Constructing a contemporary home extension in a bucolic region renowned for its untarnished hills can quickly provoke local controversy. So when Chris Dyson Architects began renovating a dilapidated, 19th-century gasworks building in England’s beloved Cotswolds, the firm came up with a clever way of respectfully adapting the structure to the rural landscape. The nearly 1,300-square-foot addition to a traditional cottage mimics the shape and materials of nearby barns while remaining distinctly modern. The local response? “It’s been remarkably positive,” partner Harry Whittaker says.

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