The Winning Design

by Cowper Griffith Architects

Cowper Griffith Architects (CGA) identifies the historic pattern of use and restores the main social spaces of the house to encourage an inspiring cooperative and collective use. Based in Whittlesford, Cambridge, the firm's previous work include National Trust visitor facilities at Stowe and Anglesey Abbey, the Great Hospital in Norwich and Stiffkey Old Hall in Norfolk. 

“We saw a really exciting and imaginative range of proposals for the revival of Calverley through the competition," says Anna Keay, director of the Landmark Trust. "However, the winning design stood out, and won the unanimous support of the panel, for its marriage of real sensitivity to the grade-one listed building with an ingenious approach to creating wonderful, uplifting spaces within and around it."

This is an ambitious design, one that the architects say will be "informed by the analogy of a worn tapestry, much loved and repaired." The building will present a series of dilemmas each different from the last and each requiring a decision on the whole of the space, the minutiae of the detail and the best traditional techniques to stich back the building fabric.

Chris Cowper, partner & design director at Cowper Griffith Architects, says:

“We are very aware that the success of the project will depend upon our ability to make the social history and architectural detail of the development of the Old Hall discernible and legible, through the expressed evolution of the masonry and worked timbers already exposed. We hope to create distinct but contemporary form and detail, subservient to the historic building, whilst enhancing the setting by drawing out and celebrating the tension between the new use and the architectural iterations visible in the historic fabric. We feel privileged to have been chosen by Landmark to take the Old Hall forward into the next phase of its history."

Below are CGA's interpretations for some of the rooms inside Calverley Old Hall. Please note that these designs are conceptual - they will be developed further alongside our expert team of surveyors and historians. 

The Great Hall

"Our design for the Great Hall cuts back the masonry on each side to express ‘separation’ and reduces the mass by stepping the stonework to a truncated height at the centre. We envisage the masonry becoming a freestanding object, with the domestic details revealing their story almost as ‘negative space’ resonant of a Rachel Whiteread sculpture.

Views of the whole roof are opened up, allowing an understanding of the original volume. The interior of the existing cottage is removed and the ground floor lowered to the same as the Great Hall, registering its original extent. A contemporary item of joinery sits behind and against the 17th-century stonework within an entrance hall, to form the staircase, lift and a WC/utility area. The joinery enclosure sits below the Spere truss above, evoking the presence of the lost cross passage."

The Solar

"The ground floor of the Solar is divided into rooms, following the medieval pattern. A transverse cross passage with steps and ramp (stowed in a recess in the wall) provides equal access to two bedrooms, large bathroom, and parlour bedroom.

The first floor of the Solar is restored to a complete volume as the main living space with seating around the fire and space for study, music or games, re-creating the original communal way of living. The arched trusses are revealed and a cut is made in the floor, both revealing the archaeology of the Solar wall down to ground floor and introducing natural light from above."

The Chapel

"The family and the community came together in the Chapel to worship. We suggest restoring that relationship by encouraging a flexibility of use by opening a former doorway on the south west side of the Chapel leading to an entrance, WC, kitchenette and mess room for community use.

The Chapel could then be used for meditation, worship, a gallery, craftwork, local market, café, spoken word or musical events. Like the medieval family, the Landmark tenants could have private use of the balcony for events below, by locking a door on the half landing of a new stair set within the existing framed stairwell. Alternatively the balcony could be combined with a community event, with the door to the Solar locked instead."