A small development of new houses carefully knitted into a complex post industrial landscape.
Set within a picturesque rural valley in north Somerset rigorous research revealed the remaining traces of a heavily industrialised 18th and 19th century landscape, including the remnants of disused coalmining pits, a former railway, and the Somersetshire Coal Canal.
Replacing a medley of existing structures on site, the eight proposed dwellings are set along the ridge of the steeply sloping site, along the route of the old railway line. A meandering boardwalk to the north of the site provides the opportunity to overlook a small brook at the foot of the valley and create a circular route through the site.
The new villas, distributed in informal clusters, allow for glimpses of the verdant countryside between the buildings. The structures are carefully articulated to frame and preserve key views into the landscape, step around existing mature trees, and allow for the creation of shared green spaces within the development.
With a variety of scales, the houses have a robust simple massing and draw on the rich industrial heritage of the area, employing local rubble and ashlar stonework and with formal references to both the adjacent miner’s cottages and the former railway structures.
Living in a Post Industrial Landscape
The verdant valley conceals a rich industrial heritage, with a proliferation of coal mines, canal routes and railway structures populating the area in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The site is located on a former railway clearing close to a series of former collieries, now long abandoned. Sections of former mine structures and capped shafts survive in the woodland which now stands beside the site and a number of smaller ancillary buildings remain, including the former miners cottages, still in residential use.
The original mining structures were constructed using a variety of local and more widely sourced materials including local rubblestone, tiled roofs, brickwork from Bristol and lightweight timber sheds. The structures were characterized by steeply pitched roofs, rubblestone walls and robust brick arches which formed sections of the tramway infrastructure.
The remaining traces of the heavily industrialised landscape have been drawn upon to generate proposals for structures which carefully respond to the complexities of the site topography and the specific post industrial, now rural, context.
Steeply sloping tiled roofs and rubblestone facades form the primary materials for the new dwellings, whilst openings are lined with ashlar stonework. Main entrances to a number of the dwellings are formed with generous arched porches, imbued with the spirit of the railway infrastructure.