A London-based ARCHITECT COUPLE give NEW LIFE to an old building in the Welsh countryside …
“We always have an eye out for interesting buildings,” says architect Charlotte Boyens. “Each of us had that dream that one day we would find an ancient stone building and convert it into a home.” Having met as students at the Royal College of Art, she and partner Adam Scott have done just that with an ancient stone chapel in the Welsh countryside, which they now share with their two sons, Albion and Oren, and their parents.
As their London flat was only 100m2 (1,076 sq ft) with no garden, the couple, who work as “experience architects” at FreeState, the company they set up with Ben Johnson in 2003, began looking for a holiday home with plenty of space for the boys to run around in. Adam and his mum had been looking for a place in Pembrokeshire, where they had spent holidays when Adam was a child, and stumbled upon an eleventh-century Norman chapel.
After getting a builder to check that it was structurally sound, Adam and Charlotte bought the property online, without even visiting it. “I was quite desperate to work on something like it,” says Charlotte, “knowing it would be there for decades, if not hundreds of years.” Dividing the space proved to be the main challenge. A double-height timber wall was installed, with two doors leading to the staircase, utility room, bedrooms and bathroom.
Before construction could begin, a new home had to be found for the resident bats, so the couple built a large wooden shed with an attic for the bats and enough space below for a workshop. The boys each have their own workbench, and Adam, who trained to be a stonemason in between his architectural studies, has begun to teach them the basics. The family has also thrown themselves into the outdoor life, surfing the estuary and fishing from the beach. “The only sad bit was coming home to London,” Albion says, “when we realised that this adventure was nearly over.”
Photographs by Luke White
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