142 South Street

Sandy Rendel Architects, Lewes, 2015


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The house occupies a prominent position at the entrance to the town 

Richard Chivers     Download Original

  • The house occupies a prominent position at the entrance to the town    
  • The distinctive Cor-ten mesh    
  • The oak staircase cuts through the living space    
  • The entrance is clad in blackened oak    
  • There are no blinds or curtains    
  • Jeremy Pitts created the large staircase    
  • View from the ground floor    
  • View of the oak staircase    
  • View of bedroom    
  • View of bathroom    
  • Location plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Section AA    
  • North east elevation    
  • South west elevation    
  • South east elevation    
  • Cladding and roofing detail    

Persistence in the face of a planning rejection and bold interpretation of the context have created a striking landmark building in Lewes, East Sussex.

Bounded by a busy road, chalk cliff face and the river Ouse, the 11m-wide site backs on to a former quarry on the site where chalk from the cliff used to be loaded onto barges. Piles were drilled 15m deep into the bedrock to protect the river wall from pressure from the house and works.

The defining element of this house is its upper-storey Cor-ten cladding. The weathered metal mesh spans across windows and openings at first-floor level, allowing light in and views out at the same time as giving privacy.

The entrance is through a hallway clad in blackened oak and the ground floor unfolds into a large rectangular living space. Upstairs, rooms are modestly sized. On the river side, the bedrooms project out over the living space and give the impression of floating above the water. Sculptural ceilings add interest, reflecting the lines of the roofscape, which borrows its form from the chiselled-out fissures of the chalk cliff.

Key to the design of the house is the external treatment of the first-floor walls and roof. Here, the lightweight structure is clad in a continuous skin of expanded Cor-ten steel mesh, which wraps the entire volume to conceal traditional elements such as gutters and fascias and emphasise and articulate the overall form.

For the walls, the cladding is detailed as a traditional rainscreen, whereas on the roof the mesh orientation is reversed and water encouraged to pass through to the weathering layer and concealed drainage beneath. The roof mesh is supported on a top hat rail system secured to proprietary fixing bars that are hot-welded to the single-ply membrane. These were originally developed to support solar panels and provide a non-penetrative fixing base to the membrane that can be adapted for a wide range of uses. The window surrounds are formed as fully welded Cor-ten cassettes, which are secured to the structure behind and in turn support the mesh vent panels that mask the opening elements of the first-floor windows.


  • Begun: Nov 2014
  • Completed: Oct 2015
  • Floor area: 257m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £690,000
  • Procurement: JCT Intermediate Building Contract with Contractor’s Design
  • Address: 142 South Street, Lewes, BN7, United Kingdom

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