A rural house by Ashworth Parkes reinterprets local vernacular architecture


Michele Rossi

Designed by Ashworth Parkes Architects, Woodview is a two-storey, new-build dwelling located on beautiful rural site outside Cambridge. Our client bought an old farmhouse that was in such a severe state of disrepair that it had to be demolished, writes APA. Plans were drawn up for a replacement house, which the planners decided should look like an old barn with black timber cladding and a red-tiled roof. We decided to treat this as an opportunity rather than a restriction. Instead of mimicing the details of local farm buildings, we have updated and reinterpreted them into a new rural vernacular.


Material selection was governed by a desire for the building to age gracefully. The project uses a traditional palette of brick, stained black timber, red clay plain tiles and mill-finished aluminium. However, these are employed with precision, detail and constructional techniques appropriate to a 21st century house rather than a 19th century agricultural building.

Site plan; ground- and first-floor plans; sections

The building was constructed using a timber frame that was fabricated off site. This ensured a quick build time and dimensional precision. The latter was important for setting out the vertical cladding boards, which come in two sizes and align between storeys. The first-floor boards are half as wide as those on the ground floor, and each one is numbered. Every opening is set out around this module.

The cladding is a rainscreen enabling all the services to be concealed behind it. We designed bespoke light fittings within the cladding module, which hide the light source and are shaped to wash the light gently downwards. Taps and power points are hidden behind lift-up panels to maintain an uncluttered aesthetic. A narrow aluminium channel runs horizontally around the perimeter of the building separating the two widths of timber and providing a fixing point for the aluminium brise soleil. Opening lights and fixed, frameless picture windows are orientated to make the most of the expansive views.


The interior is finished to a high standard, with numerous bespoke details, including a cocktail bar and matching occasional table fabricated from sheets of perforated unlacquered brass.

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