New houses in parkland setting
We became involved with this project in 2011 when we asked by an agent of the Trustees and Fathers of Prinknash abbey to consider the potential conversion of their redundant and deteriorating 1970s abbey.
Initially we undertook a feasibility study; this looked at the potential for converting the building to apartments. This demonstrated that to convert the abbey the building would need to be extended to meet current fire regulations and much of the structure replaced. The building would have converted to 25 apartments. The building cost of the works was unfeasible given the structure and parking for 50 cars would have required the car park to the North currently used by visitors to Chorley’s Auction House and The Bird Park.
A decision was therefore made to consider the demolition of the 1970s building and the construction of new houses in the grounds of the redundant abbey.
The site sits in the Cotswold AONB and on the escarpment overlooking Gloucester, the Grade 1 St. Peters Grange overlooks the site to the East. Understanding the importance of any change to this landscape we collaborated with Nigel Evers, a Landscape Architect to develop the proposals. This lead to a detailed landscape appraisal, which identified development areas and an enhancement landscape strategy. An important early decision was not to build on the abbey footprint and keep the walls of the Crypt.
We studied the local vernacular and context of the site and used this as a basis to develop our designs. This was done within a 3D model to allow us to consider issues such as daylight shading, overlooking and visual impact from vantage points around the site. The site slopes steeply and the model was also invaluable in understanding the changes in level particularly for road gradients.
The houses have a strong Cotswold identity and each house is individually designed with a different layout and varying forms. We took inspiration from the strong identity of local barns which have a mix of stone and timber cladding and we have reinterpreted this in a modern idiom for some houses. All the houses are threaded into the landscape and each house benefits from the retention of mature trees forming private gardens and privacy.
Sustainability as with all our projects is ingrained in the houses, with a fabric first approach we look to reduce the requirement for energy initially. Heating and hot water will be provided from a central biomass boiler. Materials from demolition will be crushed and used as foundations for houses and parking areas – this will limit the impact of construction movements.
We have undertaken consultation locally, with Stroud District Council and the AONB during the development of the proposal. The proposal is limited to the 9 acre fenced grounds of the 1970’s abbey. The existing carpark to the North; of the site will have its layout altered to improve the landscape and bring car parking spaces up to modern standards, these will still be used by visitors to The Birdpark and Chorley’s Auction house.