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Shenfield Mill
Reading

Renovation and extension of the Grade II Listed house, cottage and studio

Shenfield Mill is a Grade II Listed Building in West Berkshire, lying in a conservation area with a number of tributaries from the River Kennet running through the site.

The brief was to carefully preserve and enhance the beautiful Georgian proportions, creating a modern home that celebrated the site’s spectacular setting while also providing level wheelchair access. The recording studio on the site was to be converted to guest accommodation and the mill worker’s cottage (which houses 600 bats in the roof) was to be refurbished and extended.

As designated heritage asset, all works were closely scrutinised by West Berkshire Council as the local planning authority.

The refurbishment of the main house entailed restoring the house through precise reconstruction and sensitive contemporary detailing and interpretations of Georgian design.

This included reinstating the historic main entrance, which restores the original architectural hierarchy of the building while the reconfigured driveway access further creates a sense of arrival. The window bays were demolished, redesigned and reconstructed with timber sash windows (glazed with crown glass to match original glazing) and Flemish bond brickwork.

Rooms were restored to their original proportions, the floor was raised to provide level access throughout and a new kitchen, bathrooms and bedroom accommodation added.

A new hand-carved limestone staircase with a decorative scalloped underside greets visitors as they arrive and cantilevers from the wall giving an appearance of weightlessness.

In contrast to the Georgian mill masters house, a new largely glazed Orangery extension in a contemporary design blurs the boundaries between interior and exterior, connected by a minimal ‘invisible glazed link. This approach preserved the view of the original rear of the house through the glazing.

The material choices reference the palate of the main house, with quarry slate clad walls echoing the Welsh slate roof and the rust streaked, slate clad rear wall of the orangery echoes the rust colour brickwork.

Transparency and lightness were achieved by specifying the largest double glazed window panels with the slimmest technically achievable sight-lines possible. Polished chrome clad columns create the illusion of a floating roof while the steel frame of the orangery cantilevers from the columns to afford a slim outer roof edge beyond the glazing.

A new stainless steel footbridge spans the River Kennet connecting the main house to the western gardens, providing the final link in a now circular walk through the landscape. New views were created by the removal of tall leylanii trees.

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