Raven Tower, Hesleyside Huts

Newton Architects, Northumberland, 2023



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Hesleyside Huts have created several whimsical holiday retreats within the Capability Brown Landscape of Hesleyside Hall, the last a fairytale treehouse.

With escapism the driver, a brief emerged from the history of this remote area – the Borderlands – Reiver country. Raven Tower evokes imagery of the Border conflicts, of pele towers and bastles - defensive, uninviting, and forbidding then but intriguing and romantic now. With these visual clues as a start, the design/construction addresses planetary concerns in a contemporary way. SITING Raven is remote, uphill where a tower might have been, but time might have hidden it in trees – the surrounding woodland spaces as important as the building. Height is its reason for being, so the four spaces required - kitchen/dining. living, bedroom and bathroom are stacked within a 4m square, 10m high tower. DESIGN Building within trees meant it had to sit 'lightly on the earth'. Timber framing, charred timber cladding with timber triple glazed windows, mainly natural insulation, on bored steel piles and to low energy fabric standards, addressed the carbon/energy issues best. The stark, dark, blank tower with a few 'arrow' slit windows visible emerges as visitors approach. Moving around to the entrance the tower opens up to the south. The only large window to the living room is shuttered cladding which opens internally to reveal the raised view through trees. To complete the imagery. the main entrance is up an external stone stair to first floor. A large rooflight opens the top floor bathroom to the sky and trees. Externally, paths through the woodland and a recreated circular 'fank' with a fire pit complete the experience. CONSTRUCTION Local structural engineers and timber frame fabricators built Raven to weathertightness, then the clients employed local craftsmen and tradesmen to complete the interior and exterior spaces.


  • Begun: Jan 2022
  • Completed: 2023
  • Floor area: 53m2
  • Sector: Hotel
  • Total cost: £230,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Dec 2021
  • Procurement: RIBA Concise Building Contract 2018
  • CO2 Emissions: 24.05kg/m2/year
  • Address: Northumberland, NE48, United Kingdom

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