The Farmer’s House

A generous annex to an existing house has provided self-contained accommodation for visitors and the opportunity to unify the whole


Martin Gardner

AR Design Studio was approached by clients who were looking to add a completely self-contained yet joined annex to their house on a private estate in the most western part of the South Downs National Park. The annex would create a space for their children and grandchildren to occupy when staying. Furthermore, the existing house had been subject to a number of previous alterations and extensions throughout the years that had led to it feeling mismatched and sitting uncomfortably on the plot.


The team at AR Design Studio proposed an extension and makeover that would wrap everything together in a unified and elegant form. The existing house and new annex are joined by a glazed link and the annex, which sits to the east, is surrounded by a large covered alfresco dining and relaxing area. The terrace and pool located centrally in front of the house are tied in via a large sweeping canopy that reaches around the existing house and continues to the west of the plot and provides an additional sheltered seating space. The canopy incorporates openings for the existing trees and partial shading elements, providing protection to the southern facing façade with delicate timber louvres.


A palette of natural and man-made materials was carefully curated. The zinc has a strong agricultural feel that defines the context and client’s heritage whilst providing a protective gesture. This is contrasted with the linear timber cladding that acts as a contemporary, yet rural material, and the fibre cement provides a cool toned solidity to compliment the warm details of timber.


Visually, the extension appears as a single mass set in the landscape, with the snug, kitchen/living and dining space, utility room, and two of three bedrooms on the ground floor. Small punctuations have been made into the timber cladding to introduce natural light, yet their scale is kept modest to protect the rooms from the onlooking driveway. A concealed subterranean development has prevented visual bulk that could otherwise swamp the existing house’s proportions, and includes a bedroom, plant room and garage space for two cars.


Internally, the finishes have been kept minimal with cool grey tones, similar to that of the fibre cement cladding. Warm touches are constantly visible through the furnishings and timber cladding. East-facing bedrooms catch the morning light and have extensive views over the surrounding South Downs, whilst strategically placed skylights have been used throughout the project to introduce natural light into spaces deeper in the plan.

The scheme now stands as one architectural form that stretches out across the garden setting. Within the wider context, the strong geometry sits amongst a structured landscape, which gradually dissolves into the farmland beyond.

Additional Images


AR Design Studio
Structural engineer
Eckersley O’Callaghan
BlueFish Construction
Charlotte Murrell Landscape Design

Timber cladding
VM Zinc
Fibre-cement cladding


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