The Dovecote Studio by Haworth Tompkins


London architects Haworth Tompkins have inserted a Corten steel artist's studio into a ruined Victorian dovecote in Suffolk, UK.

Called The Dovecote Studio, the structure has a pitched rood and occupies the same space as the original building's interior.

A skylight in the north side of the roof illuminates the plywood interior, which includes a mezzanine with a desk and corner window overlooking marshes towards the sea.

The steel was welded together to form a watertight box, constructed on-site and lifted into the brick shell by a crane.

Here is some more information from the architects:


The Dovecote Studio

The Dovecote Studio forms part of the internationally renowned music campus at Snape Maltings, founded by Benjamin Britten in derelict industrial buildings on the Suffolk coast.

Britten was inspired by the almost abstract landscape of the reedbeds at the boundary between the land and the sea: the ruins of a nineteenth century dovecote sit directly on this boundary, looking out across the marshes.

The Dovecote Studio inhabits the ruins and expresses the internal volume of the Victorian structure as a Cor-ten steel ‘lining’, a monocoque welded structure that was built next to the ruin and craned in when complete.

Above: the ruined dovecote before the project began

The building is fully welded in a single piece, like the hull of a ship, to achieve weather tightness, and then fitted with a simple plywood inner lining.

Above: inserting the new Corten structure by crane

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.

Click here for larger image.

The single volume will be used by artists in residence (it can operate as a simple bedsitting room with a compact kitchen), by musicians as rehearsal or performance space (there is a large opening door to an adjoining courtyard), by staff for meetings or as a temporary exhibition space.

Click here for larger image.

Only the minimum necessary brickwork repairs were carried out to stabilize the existing ruin prior to the new structure being inserted.

Click here for larger image.

Decaying existing windows were left alone and vegetation growing over the dovecot was protected to allow it to continue a natural process of ageing and decay.

Click here for larger image.

Prior to the Cor-ten structure being inserted, a new drainage channel was cast to falls at base level to ensure that water running down between the old and the new structures is channelled to accessible drainage points at the door thresholds. The interior walls and ceiling of the space are insulated, sealed with a high-performance vapour control layer, and lined with spruce plywood to create a timber ‘box’ within the Cor-ten shell. Laminated plywood sheets also form the stairs, balustrade and mezzanine structure.

Click here for larger image.

Name: The Dovecote Studio
Address: Snape Maltings, Snape, Suffolk
Start on Site: January 2009
Date of Completion: August 2009
Gross External Floor Area: 30 sqm
Architect: Haworth Tompkins
Client: Aldeburgh Music
Main Contractor: Elliston Steady and Hawes (Building) Ltd
Structural Engineer:Price and Myers LLP
Environmental Engineer: Ernest Griffiths
CDM Coordinator: PFB Construction Management Services Limited

Posted on Sunday February 14th 2010 at 7:47 pm by Chris Barnes. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • starving

    so sexy

  • Abhi


  • syd

    love it. love how the ruins are untouched and are allowed to keep on aging. looks like the old brick skin is peeling off to give new life to the corten building. great character.

  • I love this so much. I’ve seen it on 3 different sites. I had to stop and dream about it each time. I wish I owned it… parked in the middle of a wheat field in Northern Idaho USA. I would dig a tunnel to it, add a couple more windows and leave only to get more scotch.

    Great job people !

  • Kristen

    simple but elegant..

  • Great inspiration and use of old building for a new facad.

  • Tyler


  • me


  • nice contrast…

  • Mattia

    The plywood is so disappointing.

  • laila

    love it ^_^

  • Ampso

    this house is the best definition of retrofitting, inserting the newinto the old

  • Very beautifull and sensitive project. A good interpretation to the past.


    somehow reminds me of this:
    but a nice one anyway, seems to fit into context

  • eva


  • Horta

    Amazing colours.. And I love how the scale of the building seems to change according to which angle you look at it (roof light makes it almost appear as a 3 storey construction). Fabulous.

  • fabregues

    Bravo pour l'esthétique qui concilie tradition et modernité, intérieur et extérieur….

  • Mike Rosential

    this is really cute project

  • Love this! Although I have to admit I would want for a larger space. Saying this though, it is still a lot larger than my current studio. But If I was to go to the trouble and expense I would go for a little more floor space.

  • very nice sudio. congratulations !!!

  • Samuelebottega

    Easy to read! Bravi!

  • phil
  • Lili

    Proposal respectful and modern, in this case, simplicity is synonymous with quality.

  • G

    Great stuff, but I think there was a project in AR a few years ago, very similar for an old pig stye. I preferred that one, as this one fails a bit where you have the corteen on the outside and plywood on the inside. The same material throughout would have been great.

  • G


    it is the same site. Looking carefully on the photo you can see it is the same ruin. Think the Nissan Adams job was a temporary one, but weird another architect gets to do the permanent structure, when they look so much alike.

  • G

    Here is a link to the very similar pigstye project:

  • bob

    One wishes ones`s garden shed looked the same.

  • This reminds me of 2 other projects:

    1) Caixa Forum in Madrid by Herzog & de Meuron

    2) Kolumba Museum in Cologne by Peter Zumthor

    what do you think?

  • PL

    perfect example of combining old and new

  • sinead

    so fantastic! so simple. polite. perfect piece of architecture. There should be a lot more like this- architecture that doesn't impose on previous architectural propositions. lovely

  • Quite a good way to replace old things. We all need to replace old things by new things.

  • thats the real technology.. i will also build my house like this next year :)

  • Great design! The view over the reeds is stunning. I like the way the building fit's into the environment, but on closer examination there the juxtaposition of the old derelict building and the new shell. My only question is why the skylight wasn't south-facing to bring more light into the building?

  • Stefan

    where is the tree? They cut the tree!!!!!! NOW! No point with no tree!

  • I love how the scale of the building seems to change according to which angle you look at it

  • iramwyne

    does any one knows why this building called Dovecote ? is there any philosophy behind .

  • k_r

    Love the Corten but should have taken advantage of the existing window openings on the front facade… also, plywood interiors? Probably helped to stay in budget but still not the best quality.

  • We have been introduced to this particular project in our course when we were working on a refurbishment of historical heritage. I use it as a fantastic example ever since.