A Transformed Postman's Cottage in England

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By Olivia Martin
In southwestern England, an architect transforms a former postman’s cottage on a sprawling estate into a home that radiates from its original foundations.

When Hugo Day hired architect David Sheppard to create a traditional home on his family’s 600-acre estate along the River Erme in Devon County, England, the original plan was to demolish a small stone outbuilding on the property.

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To integrate the former postman’s cottage with the new design, architect David Sheppard added a concrete column adjacent to an existing stone chimney and a new slate chimney “at the heart of the composition.” From this, the roof structure fans out; the small structure now serves as an anteroom.

However, once Sheppard learned the provenance of the turn-of-the-19th-century building—it formerly housed the local postman, who delivered the mail by pony and trap—he revised the plan. To incorporate the existing cottage into the new home’s layout, Sheppard situated the addition so that the new structure grows outward from this central point. "Our idea was to radiate [the design] out, anchoring and composing a linear, organic form and capturing light through an expressive fan-shaped roof," says Sheppard. "We wanted to complement and enhance the humble dwelling."

Thanks to a disused local quarry, the architects were able to apply the same mix of granite and limestone used on the cottage’s exterior walls throughout the addition. The resulting 2,497-square-foot residence remains congruous with its roots: Stone walls mimic traditional property boundaries, and the roofline references the original structure.