Between the Folds

‘Between the Folds’ addresses a common problem in domestic architecture in the UK; houses that are accumulations of spaces, often no longer used for the purpose for which they were first designed. Over time they lose their original clarity, coherence and hierarchy until they eventually hamper rather than enhance the lives that unfold within them. This calls for a careful and gentle ‘unpicking’ of the disparate buildings, to restore their integrity while creating a new relationship between them.

This building is located on the Eastern edge of the Chiltern Hills AONB near Marlow in Buckinghamshire. In this case, the new relationship created is cemented through the use of a new folded roof typology that both opens up and increases internal space, while resolving the chaotic group into a formal architectural composition. The folded plates of the new roofs refer to the pitches of the historic structure, but the geometries are multiplied and aligned to introduce a new coherence.

The three generations who will occupy the building have informed the way the spaces have been reorganised to allow both a sense of peace, privacy and autonomy and multiple shared spaces, each with very different qualities. Internally the buildings are reprogrammed to form two, principal zones at either end, connected by an enfilade of double height central social spaces on the ground floor: an entrance or ‘grand’ dining hall, a sitting room and an informal dining room. The relationship between these spaces is made more dramatic by the way the topography falls from east to west.

Of the two principal zones, one contains a higher concentration of bedrooms with low ceilings and ‘cottage-like’ scale. At the other end of the building, the master and primary guest bedrooms, whose ceilings expand into the height of the dramatic roof pitches, sit above the principal kitchen. The two ends of the building can either be used together when there’s a full house, where each of the parts complements the whole, or separately, so that it never feels either too big or too empty. The project creates a new space to draw a group of like-minded people ‘into the fold’.