Pen y Common

Nestled on a secluded hillside above Hay-on-Wye is Pen-y-Common. A Seventeenth Century Welsh longhouse. The clients wanted a modern, light filled extension, however it also needed to sit comfortably with, and compliment the existing house.

Form and massing reference vernacular pitched roof structures typical of the Welsh Landscape. Intersecting volumes allude to the rural farmstead tradition of ad-hoc development, the pitched roof is a time tested solution for dealing with the harsh Welsh climate whilst the building steps with the sites natural topography, hunkering into the landscape to provide shelter against prevailing winds.

A dialogue between old and new was developed using a material palette of natural, raw finishes inspired by traditional Welsh practices. Floors are buffed concrete, a modern take on traditional flagstones whilst the untreated larch cladding was grown, cut, dried and machined within ten miles of the site.

Thoughtful, sustainable detailing has been employed throughout. For example the cladding has a random width pattern to reduce unnecessary waste, with offcuts being used elsewhere, such as to make the front door.

The project has been recognised with multiple awards including the RSAW Welsh Architecture Building of the Year 2023 and an RIBA National Award 2023 given to buildings in recognition of their significant contribution to Architecture. Pen y Common was undertaken by both Nidus Architects and Rural Office. Rural Office undertook work through RIBA stages 1 to 3. Nidus Architects undertook work through RIBA Stages 3 to 7.

Project Credits

Photography: Finn Beales

RIBA stages 1-3: Rural Office

Contractors: Jenkinson Builders and Firth Construction

Structural Engineer: RV Williams Associates


RSAW: Welsh Architecture Building of the Year 2023

RSAW: Welsh Architecture Conservation Project of the Year 2023

RSAW: Welsh Architecture Small Project of the Year 2023

RSAW: Regional Award 2023

RIBA: National Award 2023

Eisteddfod: Gold medal for Architecture Winner

Upper Duffryn

Upper Duffryn

Currently on site this exciting project within the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will bring an historic barn back into use as part new home,  part holiday let. The biggest challenge presented by the project was to find a solution that would allow the original roof height to be notably increased. Working with Shropshire Councils built Heritage Officer timber louvres were introduced over the existing walls to maintain the character and proportions of the original structure.

A suitable construction strategy was developed that will enable a lightweight timber frame to be inserted within the existing stone walls. The original trusses will be re-used to form a new roof at the higher level.

Wain House

Hidden in a small Herefordshire hamlet near the Welsh border town of Presteigne is the Wain House. The site, originally part of a medieval farmstead is home to a Grade II Listed Cart Shed, converted into a dwelling in the mid 1990’s. The new dwelling has allowed much of the mid 90’s work to be reversed and the Cart Shed to be sensitively restored.

Siting a new dwelling next to the cart shed without overwhelming it is achieved by splitting the house into two separate elements that reference the form, massing and layout of nearby agricultural structures dotted across the settlement. Each element accommodates a main living space linked via a circulation corridor recessed into the site so that as occupants move through the house they are immersed into the garden and landscape.

A considered palette of traditional clay tiles, local stone, oak and Herefordshire gravel is used to create a dialogue with the old cart shed and wider context.

Environmental considerations have been integrated with the overall design strategy, for example bedding the house into the landscape provides thermal mass, but at the same time ensures the buildings scale does not overwhelm the adjacent cart shed.

Glazing on the circulation hall is aligned due South to benefit from passive heat gains. To manage heat gains a timber trellis spans over the glazing allowing climbing plants to provide shade in the summer and, once leaves drop, natural light and heat gains in the colder months.

Project Credits

Contractors: Firth Construction

Structural Engineer: Donald McIntyre Design

Photography: Mat Price