South Downs Sitooterie

MW Architects, South Downs National Park, East Sussex, 2018


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Luke Nagle of MW Architects     Download Original

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This garden studio helps to define a series of outdoor spaces, providing a multifunctional room for potting plants, playing family games and reading.

In the corner of an old barnyard a tumbled down pig-sty stood. The yard was covered by a simple concrete slab and surrounded by flint and brick walls that slope to follow the contours of the ground. The new studio responds to the remains of the pig-sty, the existing garden walls, the sloping ground and the converted cow-stalls that frame the yard.

The cow-stalls were built on the gradient of a shallow hill to allow slurry to be washed away easily by farmers. This gives the ridge and eaves of the cow-stalls a distinctive angle that reinforces the natural slope of the land. The roof of the new studio mirrors this slope.

The roof sits above the existing flint walls with clerestory windows providing the main source of direct sunlight into the studio. Other windows are punctured into the cedar timber cladding on the garden side to provide views back into the yard. To accentuate the simple gable form the verges and ridge details of the roof are reduced to the absolute minimum further highlighting the distinctive peculiarity of the angled roof.

Structural elements such as the rafters, the existing brick walls and simple cast iron gutters are also left exposed to show the simple construction appropriate for a rural shed.

To begin to define a series of spaces in the yard without having to break up the concrete slab, a series of stepped decks are arranged around doors in the studio and cow-stalls creating a series of outdoor rooms for sitting and carving out pockets for different planting schemes.


  • Begun: Mar 2017
  • Completed: Aug 2018
  • Floor area: 30m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £88,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Jan 2016
  • Procurement: Traditional Procurement and JCT Minor Works with Contractors Design
  • Address: South Downs National Park, East Sussex, United Kingdom

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