The Forge

Studio Bloc, Shropshire, 2020



Photography by Philip Handley     Download Original

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Conversion of a 19th Century Grade II listed former blacksmith’s forge and new-build extension

The design and layout of the new rooms were developed in close collaboration with the client. A key objective was to preserve and enhance the character of the original building during the conversion and extension. The final design centred around the contrast between old and new - balancing the preservation of the industrial character of the old blacksmith’s forge, with creating a light, contemporary extension.

Both the design and the build focused on sensitive restoration of the original features, including preserving the timber beams, salvaging the original window frames, and painstakingly rebuilding the brick forge into its original form. High levels of insulation and under-floor heating were utilised to provide thermal comfort and reduce energy use.

To celebrate the union of the old and the new, a brass strip on the external wall and roof was chosen to reflect the building’s metalwork past. New elements were simply detailed using familiar, locally available materials. The new addition is built using a highly insulated timber frame, and clad in black corrugated metal sheeting. This material was chosen to reflect the building’s heritage as a blacksmith’s, and also the local agricultural vernacular of the surrounding rural area.

The small size of the plot (270sqm site area) proved logistically challenging during construction, but allowed for two, triangular-shaped pockets of courtyard garden spaces to be created. The minimal black facade is disrupted only in a few carefully chosen places by large windows and roof-lights with subtle black frames. These windows frame select views of the small garden spaces from different angles, which can be accessed from many of the living spaces.


  • Begun: Mar 2016
  • Completed: Aug 2020
  • Floor area: 99m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £85,000
  • Funding: private
  • Tender date: Feb 2016
  • Procurement: Self-build - Project managed by the client
  • CO2 Emissions: 23kg/m2/year
  • Address: Whixall, Shropshire, SY13, United Kingdom

Professional Team