Riverview House - Renovation and extension of a 100-year-old cottage

Riverview House – Renovation and extension of a 100-year-old cottage

Modernising a 100-year-old plus stone cottage to suit modern living needs while maintaining the character and charm is no easy feat. The extension that will house all the mod-cons should not overpower the existing old cottage. It should be of simple design with close attention to detail. The external materials should complement the immaculate limestone walls of the cottage. Since the site is located in a picturesque rural setting there is an opportunity to incorporate agricultural materials. The site has a river flowing past it to the north and the garden is large, south facing and surrounded by mature trees.

From light to darkThe Concept

The concept for this project is the play on light, from dark to bright. To maintain the character of the old cottage we decided to leave the external walls, windows and roof intact. So since we are not adding any more natural light to the cottage the internal spaces will remain darker than what you would expect a modern home would be. We can use natural light to entice visitors from the dark cottage to the modern living spaces.

The main elements of this project are the Old, the New and the Link between the two.


The Old

Riverview House existing imageAs previously stated above, the aim is to preserve as much as possible the character of the existing cottage. We want to utilise the cosy spaces and the quaint features. In general, the old cottage is a dark space, this provides the perfect opportunity to pay homage to the experience the old cottage affords its visitors. The different light between the two spaces will define the zones from old to new.

The Link

The main vehicular entrance is moved east along the front boundary to create a safer point of off the public road. Exit your car, descend the steps to the front door. Upon opening the door a warm greeting of light invites you into the dwelling. Standing at the foot of the stairs you have a choice. Turn right, move up the steps and enter the snug or turn left and enter the main living area. This is where the illusion of light works as a navigational tool. Subliminally humans are drawn to light. Hence the unconscious decision process for the visitor to turn left and head towards the brighter living space. Not to turn right into the darker old cottage. Therefore visitors are drawn to the welcoming heart of the home.

 Ground Floor Plan
First Floor Plan

The New

You may have observed when standing in a room with the lights on and it’s dusk outside that the perception is that it is pitch black beyond the window. If you go outside your eyes adjust and you find it’s not as dark as it once seemed. This same effect will be observed when standing in the hall facing the snug. While modern bright space in the hall will make the snug seem even darker and will create the illusion of a boundary between the old and the new. Now turn and face the main living space. Here you will see the door into the open plan kitchen is glazed. Your eye is immediately drawn to the beautiful view of the garden at the end of the living area. Then your attention is broken by the silhouettes that move around the island which welcomes you into the main living space.

Perspective 1-1

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