Rural Retreat

Manea Kella, Nottinghamshire, 2022



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Rural Retreat is the transformation of an existing run-down garage and stabling block into accommodation for our client’s extended family and their collection of books, antique furniture and art.

The barn sits within the historic village of Colston Bassett and is sited within the Colston Bassett Conservation Area. The existing house sits on a 2,200 sqm plot with a welcoming driveway and spectacular rear garden. The tranquil, rural surroundings of the dwelling make it an ideal retreat from urban life. In its basic shape and openings, the new building echoes the original structure. The existing roof has been wholly removed and a new timber frame made from Douglas fir now spans the entire length of the house. We retained the existing slab and footings, brick walls, underpinnings and challenged the requirement for unnecessary volume increase. The result is a set of interconnected spaces, some small and some double height, creating a sense of volume and light. The Japanese Ryokan was a source of inspiration for the interiors – renown for being beautifully simple and elegant. Their contemporary purpose is to offer guests respite from busy urban life. The joinery throughout the internal spaces consists of naturally finished Douglas fir, marrying with the new and untreated roof structure, which features expressed rafters and sarking boards. The rhythmic repetition of timber elements, symmetry and minimalism help to form calm and peaceful spaces. Soft shadows are celebrated just as much as natural light and contribute to an atmosphere of intimacy and retreat. The new building faces the public highway and so privacy is achieved through lush plant screening and mobile Siberian Larch shutters. The transient periods of occupancy and vacancy of the structure are considered where shutters close when the building is unoccupied and the new house is ‘camouflaged’ as a barn.


  • Begun: Feb 2021
  • Completed: Jan 2022
  • Floor area: 120m2
  • Sector: House
  • Total cost: £300,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Nov 2020
  • Procurement: Traditional
  • Address: Nottinghamshire, NG12, United Kingdom

Professional Team