The Square

Tim Offer Architects, Plymouth, 2017


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01 Garden View 

Tim Offer (website)     Download Original

  • 01 Garden View    
  • 02 dusk    
  • 03 corner    
  • 04 stack    
  • 05 cowl    
  • 06 garden room    
  • 07 steps    
  • 08 snug    
  • 09 stone    
  • 10 kitchen    
  • 11 brick and steel    
  • 12 shadow    
  • 13 brick and zinc    
  • 14 colour    
  • 01 location    
  • 02 plan    
  • 03 elevation 1    
  • 04 elevation 2    
  • 05 section    
  • 01 Diagram    
  • 03 Model    
  • 04 Before    
  • 05 Demolition    
  • 06 Detail    

Extension to Grade II listed house

A bold contemporary addition to a listed house that opens new connections through the house and to the garden, brings redundant spaces back into use and re-establishes the building's original grandeur.

Once a naval hospital, the Millfields in Plymouth is now mainly residential, and the project was for alterations to one of the grand houses that originally formed the officers' quarters, built in 1805. When it was sold by the MOD in the mid 90s it had been used as the medical mess for a number of years, and the site of the project was occupied by the ladies loos. This poorly built structure cut the house off from its extensive garden, blocked original openings and was contributing to the deterioration of the fabric of the listed house.

Through a number of phases the project has brought the house back to life. Investigative work exposed original openings and elements of fabric that have been incorporated in the design, and through careful selection of materials and proportions the understated design complements the listed structure. The project is intentionally quiet yet provocative, with a clear tectonic hierarchy that relates to use, view, connection and privacy.

Phase one utilised three damp and redundant store-rooms to move the kitchen to the front of the property, connecting to an alleyway to the front and the under pavement stores beyond. This provides a generous, light and airy kitchen and breakfast room.

The second phase was for the garden room to reconnect the house to its generous garden. The additions wrap around the rear of the property with distinct areas linking to different vistas of the outside. These different areas are arranged in response to the orientation and layout of the house and are defined by strong enclosures of brick. Walls at either end extend out into the garden, connecting the lightweight glazed wings to the external spaces. A corner of brick encloses and protects the sunken and timber lined snug, offering retreat and seclusion. Interstitial spaces create a shift between open and closed, public and protected. A rich tapestry of use is created that moves beyond simply ‘inside-out’ living.

Internally a palette of timber, brick, reclaimed floors and stone complement the exposed limestone walls and rediscovered opening into the stair of the main house. Externally the structuring elements are of painted brick, with zinc clad and glazed elements of infill blending into the tones of the Plymouth limestone or reflecting the garden and sky – white standing out on grey, green and blue. A bold chimney relates to the stacks of the main house and connects inside to outside. This vertical anchor becomes a play on display and protection around which the scheme unfolds.

A listed building in a conservation area, the project required extensive consultation with the planning authority to agree materials and approach. The project is built as a lightweight structure raised off the ground to allow daylight to basement windows and touching the original fabric lightly. For reasons of budget the project was largely built by a single pair of hands (friend of friend of the clients) with only the brickwork and zinc being undertaken by subcontractors. This relied heavily on assistance throughout the lengthy construction phase to fine tune details and respond to new discoveries as they emerged.


  • Begun: Mar 2015
  • Completed: Apr 2017
  • Floor area: 45m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £90,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Mar 2015
  • Procurement: Tradtional - RIBA Domestic
  • Address: 3 The Square, The Millfields, Plymouth, PL1 3JX, United Kingdom

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