03.03.2021

As The Brickyard House begins its first steps on site, the studio looks retrospectively at the similarities to the 900-year-old Haddon Hall (1070 – 1624) in a talk by Luke Nagle.

Built, altered and added to over the 11th – 17th centuries, Haddon Hall is formed as an accretion of halls, rooms, and corridors, with protruding bays and dense, complex squinches over doorways and arches. Nestled into the sloping landscape of Derbyshire and sitting over the meander of the nearby river, the building sits as a series of stepped terraces within the valley. From a distance, the diversity of forms resemble a small hamlet and having been built from local stone, bears semblance to an outcrop of rock.

In plan, one can draw initial similarities to The Brickyard with its skewed grid composition, which is occupied by the existing ruins at the site. The buildings are both situated around two courtyards with a central hall space that mediates between them, and a profusion of bay windows on the South elevations. The rammed earth of The Brickyard acts spatially in a similar manner to the deep masonry walls of Haddon Hall, that the thicknesses of the wall are carved out of and occupied, and that the structure functions as a space in itself. Like Haddon Hall, the tectonics of Brickyard House are discernible by use of splitting of volumes and stepped levels, appearing as a series of smaller fragments.

The study of Haddon Hall reveals that contemporary architecture deals with the same constraints and sensitivities as those from centuries ago; in finding ways to deal with and negotiate a vast landscape into a building that is in its nature dense and domestic. The study tells us that there is value in the study and observation of these centuries old buildings, which are often seen as singular and static but are in reality an accumulation of alterations and additions, added to and retrofitted over time. It reveals how surprisingly relevant they can be today, in this case for the revenant of a new yet quintessentially English country house.