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Old Guild Yard

Old Guild Yard

This new house occupies a very sensitive site within Wymondham’s town centre Conservation Area in view of Wymondham Abbey; a key consideration from the outset was to give due respect to both.

– South Norfolk Design Award 2013

The site is a part of the original garden to Turret House, and the new building sits between the two-storey rear wing of Turret House and No. 1 Vicar Street. Both have relatively low rooflines, so the height and roof form of Old Guild Yard are carefully designed so as not to dominate its neighbours and to reduce its impact in the view of the Abbey Tower at the far end of Vicar Street. A gentle curve in the plan of the new house resolves a slight change in alignment between Turret House and 1 Vicar Street – and is echoed in the shallow curved of its roof.

The first floor accommodates three bedrooms and a bathroom, in a compact arrangement which keeps the roof line as low as possible. A much larger ground floor provides a large dining/sitting room, kitchen, pantry, study and WC. The sitting room has full-width sliding/folding doors giving level-access to a modest-sized yet sunny and secluded courtyard garden, which can be used as a flowing extension of the internal living space. Two ‘in-line’ double garages form a single storey pitched-roof link between Turret House and the new house, one pair of which are retained by Turret House.

The materials for the exterior have been carefully chosen to allow this thoroughly contemporary house to tie in with its historic context. Red brick to the ground floor echoes the brick of the rear wing of Turret House wing and at first floor the patinated black zinc of the roof and projecting oriel bay contrasts with white render, providing a visual link the black and white colour scheme of several Vicar Street houses.

The location and size of the site militated against the use of solar panels or other energy-generating devices. However, the house is highly insulated in order to reduce the heating and cooling requirement and underfloor heating has been used throughout to give high levels of comfort at low water temperature levels. The sedum roof over the projecting rear portion of the ground floor plan provides an attractive outlook from the first floor bedrooms, provides rainwater-attenuation and helps to keep temperature levels even in Winter and Summer.

Although the design of the house is uncompromisingly twenty first century, its form and the choice of materials are carefully considered to make an elegant and sensitive response to its context. Cleverly planned to make the best of a small site in a sustainable and desirable town-centre location, the result is an energy-conscious and surprisingly generous, almost tardis-like family house.

Photos: Richard Lee Photography

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