© Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma
© Cristobal Palma

Hunsett Mill

Set amongst the lush greenery and meandering waterways of the Norfolk Broads, with its picturesque drainage windmill and attached cottage, Hunsett Mill is the focus of souvenirs and snapshots, so a proposed extension needed to be sensitive and take into account its exposed location.

The concept, conceived with architectural firm ACME, involved demolition of the additions and extensions already made, and the introduction of an extension which, from a distance, would form a ‘shadow’ of the red-brick cottage, mimicking its form yet remaining deferential to the original building.

The extension needed to be clad in a darkly-coloured material, which the architects sourced from Japan in the form of charred cedar. This was in keeping with a local tradition of timber preservation, since charring the wood removed any oils related to rot; this material was commonly used in agricultural buildings on the Broads, giving the ‘shadow’ the look of a barn or farm building at closer range.

Planning restrictions were stringent, and both dictated only a minimal increase in building footprint size, and set the height of the extension to below the apex of the existing roof. We approached this challenge with sensitivity, working to create a form which angles itself behind the cottage yet maximises the use of potential floor space.

Our solution utilised cross-laminated timber panels which work together to form an upright load-bearing wall, and also in the horizontal plane to form floors and the distinctive saw-tooth roof. We located the staircase in an unobtrusive position, set into a slotted recess away from the walls, and hung the top floor from the structure. We were then able to use the vaulted roof spaces to create the upper floor bedrooms, and set the floor back from the walls to allow windows which spanned both storeys.

Clever and subtle extension to a picturesque windmill and cottage

Norfolk, UK
Private client

  • 2010 RIBA Award
  • 2010 RIBA Manser Medal
  • 2010 ArchDaily Building of the Year Award
  • 2010 CPRE Norfolk Award
  • 2010 North Norfolk Environment Awards – Highly Commended
  • 2010 RIBA Stephen Laurence Prize – Shortlisted
  • 2010 IStructE Structural Awards – Shortlisted
  • 2009 Sustainability Awards – Shortlisted