Architects: Studio Weave     Photography: Jim Stephenson     Construction Period:  2022     Location:  Devon, United Kingdom

Studio Weave has added a double-story timber artist’s retreat to a stone cottage in Devon, completing the revival of the holiday home for a family based between London and the countryside.

Made of Sand is set on a secluded property in the Blackdown Hills, and takes its name from the site’s historic origins as a local sandpit. Made of Sand was conceived as a flexible guest and creative space for the clients’ local family, friends, and artists. The retreat offers those wishing to connect with nature, their art or craft, and organizations in the region an independent space on the peaceful property.

Keen music lovers and creatives, clients Tom Baker and Natalie Silk appointed Studio Weave to design an extension that can be inhabited separately from the main cottage, yet sits harmoniously in the rural landscape while adopting a contemporary aesthetic. Studio Weave designed a striking two-story cubic addition with a geometric timber facade and large glazed apertures. A restored stone stair on the Eastern elevation bookends the new space between the existing cottage and the hillside.

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Made of Sand replaces an existing garage and workshop that had fallen into disrepair. Studio Weave wrapped the new 85 square meters (GEA) wing around the old cottage, resulting in a floorplan of two tesselating L-shape zones that connect internally. To create a purposeful sense of entry, Studio Weave reintroduced a path along the rear hillside to the central entry hall. A stainless steel galley kitchen lit by overhead and clerestory windows leads to the ground floor bedroom suite, which opens onto the large wildflower meadow at the front of the property. Upstairs, the living space seems to extend out to the treeline through the wide expanse of triple glazing wrapped around the facade, offering uninterrupted views over the Blackdown Hills beyond.

Materials and craft play a key role in anchoring Made of Sand in its setting. Outside, the external Red Western Cedar paneling silvers in tandem with the surrounding woodland timbers. Inside, natural materials including clay, terracotta, brass and douglas fir plywood create a warm environment. Made of Sand is highly insulated and soundproofed to allow artists and children creative freedom during retreats and family holidays.

The structure of the extension remains on display, reducing material use and wastage, and the douglas fir ceiling soffits are echoed throughout in timber battening, window seating and wall storage. Constructed by the clients’ local cob building specialist and craftsman, Made of Sand balances architectural precision with organic details. Rust-colored clay walls softly curve into door frames, and timber wall joinery cut individually by hand demonstrates the care and attention executed by a dedicated client, architect, and contractor partnership.

Text provided by the architect.