Duncan Cottage

James Grayley Architects, Bath, 2017


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Extension and refurbishment of a Grade II Listed Villa in Bath

The project extends and reorganises a Nineteenth Century villa to the north of Bath, originally constructed by John Palmer, that had suffered a number of ill-conceived extensions and reworkings of the interior during the 19th and 20th Centuries.

A research study enabled us to piece together the history and evolution of the house and assemble drawings that included the original construction drawings. In doing so we were able to understand the generating philosophies embedded in the house by John Palmer and make informed, sensitive, and appropriate proposals to remove layers of subsequent work through a process of constructive demolition, and extend the property to create accommodation appropriate to 21st Century living yet respecting the importance and character of the original historic house.

Research revealed that Palmer had intended the house to have a Loggia structure to the east elevation, where a subsequent 20th Century Conservatory now sat. Through the unearthing of this detail, we were able to make the case for the removal of the later structure and replacement with a contemporary Loggia structure that embodied the original generative ideas and philosophies of the original architect. This structure reconnects the living room, dining room and study along the east elevation, and provides an interstitial space that mediates between the house and the garden landscape.

The form and proportion of the extension is borne of the existing ruling geometry of the original house, heavily borrowed from Andrea Palladio’s villa typology and ‘systematic rules’. These original generative proportional rules were re-employed to create the new structures.

A separate studio building, compliments the living room extension and the composition of the two creates a captured garden between the built forms.

The materials of the original Georgian house - stone, timber and glass - are re-employed in the new areas of work, but purposefully detailed in a contrasting, contemporary manner.

The new works avoid imposing on or consuming the original house, and through positioning, form and detail, re-present the previously lost character and qualities of the original dwelling and bring them back to the fore.

Further work involved a series of discreet extensions to house bathrooms, provision of a new kitchen and dining space and the design of internal joinery furniture and fittings.


  • Begun: Nov 2015
  • Completed: Jan 2017
  • Floor area: 198m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £240,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Jun 2015
  • Procurement: Lump Sum Building Contract (JCT)
  • CO2 Emissions: 40kg/m2/year
  • Address: Duncan Cottage, 24 Sion Hill, Bath, BA1 2UL, United Kingdom

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