Multiplicity #5: Dovecote Studio

  • Designer: Haworth Tompkins
  • Work: Dovecote Studio
  • Infrastructural System: Food & Animals
  • Type + Intervention: Conversion of Dovecote into Art Studio
  • Location: Snap (Suffolk), United Kingdom
  • Year: 2009 (Built)
  • Reference 1:
  • Reference 2:

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The creative campus at Snape Maltings was founded by Benjamin Britten in derelict industrial buildings on the Suffolk coast. The Dovecote is part of Haworth Tompkin’s phased extension of the campus for Aldeburgh Music and inhabits the ruins of a two-storey brick dovecote overlooking the marshes. The new form expresses the internal volume of the Victorian structure as a Cor-ten steel “lining”, a welded monocoque that was prefabricated and craned into position.

Its crumbling brickwork and rusting window grilles embodied the site’sromantic dereliction, and the balance between decaying buildings and marsh landscape which first drew Benjamin Britten to Snape.

Functioning as an Art Studio, a large north light roof window provides even light for artists, while a small mezzanine platform with a writing desk incorporates a fully opening glazed corner window that gives long views over the marshes towards the sea. The single volume will be used by artists in residence, by musicians as rehearsal or performance space, by staff for meetings or as a temporary exhibition space.

The result is a building that from a distance evokes the ghost of the original structure, but, seen from close to, reveals itself as entirely new.

Only the minimum necessary brickwork repairs were carried out to stabilise the existing ruin prior to the new structure being inserted. Decaying existing windows were left alone and vegetation growing over the dovecote was protected to allow it to continue a natural process of ageing and decay. The interior walls and ceiling of the space are lined with spruce plywood to create a timber “box” within the Cor-ten shell.

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