Boase Street

Conversion of a 1950s house in Newlyn to a contemporary family home.

No.3 Boase Street is located in the heart of Newlyn, a vibrant fishing town in the west of Cornwall. The house, originally a pair of garages, later extended vertically to form two flats, was converted to make the most of the spectacular views across Newlyn Harbour, Mounts Bay and the Lizard.

Boase Street is at the heart of the Newlyn Town Conservation Area. The medieval streets are extremely narrow, and the experience of being in the town is intense and enclosing, but as soon as you gain elevation the experience changes to one of expansion and horizon. Our architectural strategy was to keep the existing building, to adapt the facade composition and update the house environmentally.

The existing house consisted of a number of small rooms, with low ceilings and no particular regard for the views. To reflect the experience of being in the town, the key idea was to completely strip out the top floor, and open it to the roof-space, creating a single lofty living space. The reorganisation of the openings captures the views and sun as it moves across the sky.

The single volume top floor was achieved by introducing two steel Ts that prop the existing purlins and enable all of the internal walls and ceilings to be removed.

The open plan top floor contains living, kitchen, dining and a study. The four bedrooms and bathroom on the middle floor remain essentially unaltered. The ground floor provides a garden room, storage, utility and bathroom, and in the subterranean corner there is a cinema room, doubling as an overflow bedroom.

Retaining all of the existing fabric and the carbon locked up in it was the starting point for our sustainability strategy. At ground floor level the structure was tanked internally, lined with insulated plasterboard and the floor insulated. The upper levels walls of rendered cavity blockwork were retained and the newly opened up roof space was insulated to beyond current regulations. A number of the existing windows were filled in to reduce heat losses and to change the appearance of the house, and the new windows are high performance low U value.