This unique extension incorporates the ruins of a former parchment factory in Northamptonshire.

factory ruins extension - explore this extension set in the ruins of a parchment factory - extensions - 

Image: Johan Dehlin 

An extension of a four-bed Victorian property was an exciting challenge for architect Will Gamble. A new structure made from Corten steel, oak and reclaimed brick was inserted within the existing masonry walls of a former parchment factory that sat on the site, making for a striking contrast. 

The Grand Designs magazine team caught up with Will to talk through the challenges of the project. 

Your project seems to be part architecture, part archaeology… 

‘The site was covered in rubble from outbuildings that had been demolished, and only a section of the factory remained. It was overgrown with weeds and some of it was structurally unsafe. Even so, I could see the potential. The ruin told a story of its past, which was architecturally intriguing.’ 

modern kitchen in period property -  explore this extension set in the ruins of a parchment factory - extensions -

Image: Johan Dehlin 

But the clients wanted to knock it down? 

 ‘When the homeowners commissioned me to extend their four-bedroom Victorian house in Northamptonshire by converting an attached cattle shed, they’d already lived in the property for a couple of years. They saw the factory ruin, which lay beyond the shed, as an eyesore. Although listed, they assumed it would be demolished to make way for the new addition. Instead, I proposed a building within a building.’ 

How did they react?

‘It took me a little while to convince them but eventually they embraced the concept and it became the driving principle behind the entire scheme. The idea was to retain as much of the ruin as possible, insert new structures within its walls and make a clear contrast between the contemporary addition and the original elements. The homeowners really enjoyed being a part of the design process, especially when it came to planning the interiors.’

Were there any constraints?

‘As both the house and the ruin are Grade-II listed, it was necessary to gain Listed Building Consent for the alterations along with Scheduled Monument Consent for the ruin. An archaeologist came on site to supervise the build.’

new extension in old property -  explore this extension set in the ruins of a parchment factory - extensions -

Image: Johan Dehlin 

Tell us about the materials...

‘The parchment factory was built from local stone and red brick, and any repairs to the walls were made in brick and stone, all reclaimed from the site, to match. The new- build parts are glass and Corten steel. Their lightweight appearance contrasts with the heavy masonry.’ 

How did this translate into the interiors?

‘The kitchen is contemporary, ensuring the new elements of the project are clear to see. The remaining structure of the cattle shed and factory serve as testament to the site’s history.’


For more project inspiration, read Grand Designs magazine digitally for free now by registering your details

read a free issue of grand designs magazine


5 of best self build projects using timber 2020

Kitchen extension ideas to improve your home

How to reduce the carbon footprint of your build

Kevins Column

Top self build highlights at Grand Designs Live 2019 hosted by Kevin McCloud

Find top experts, specialist exhibitors and a wealth of inspiration for your self-build or renovation project all under one roof.

Tour this Corten steel-clad rear extension in Hampshire

Take a look at this impressive rear extension to a Victorian property, designed to provide a work from home space alongside a new kitchen.

Kitchen extension ideas to improve your home

If you're considering a kitchen extension, this handy guide takes you from planning and design ideas through to a detailed timeline for your project.

Inside a London home extension inspired by Japanese tea houses

This stylish home extensions takes inspiration from a Japanese Shoji screen

Inside a re-imagined London maisonette with a sunken garden

By excavating the garden, these homeowners were able to reimagine their homes internal space.

Colourful exposed steels uplift this modern kitchen extension

This kitchen extension design uses exposed bright yellow steel beams to create an uplifting atmosphere.

4 real extensions that blur the lines of in and outdoors

These modern extensions have design features that emphasise the space opening out onto glorious gardens.