Shadow House

Shadow House is a grade 2* listed building located in the centre of the hilltop village of Colerne in the Wiltshire.

It was built as a Baptist Chapel in 1867 and was used by the village baptists until it was sold to the owners in August 2004.

The former chapel comprised a large unadorned bathstone building set back from the high street and surrounded by a drystone walled chapel garden. The main chapel space is entered through a portico and beneath the chapel gallery. The tall interior space is lit by 6 large windows flooding the room with light. Attached to the rear directly off the chapel is a school room with more intimate proporitons. Behind that a number of small additions to the rear had been built during the chapels 150-year life to house storage and toilets. These ancillary spaces were poorly proportioned in comparision to the chapel and school. They also restricted access to the rear garden.

The chapel garden is sloped, rising over 2m from its entrance off the high street to the rear of the garden. This compounded the isolation of the walled garden to the rear.

The clients, who had fallen in love with the building at first sight wanted to change the chapel into a home for their young family. Importantly they wanted to retain the aesthetic of the chapel and the school room without dividing up the generous spaces, whilst providing 4 bedrooms and associated bathrooms for their family. Inso doing they also they wanted the former chapel to connect better with the surrounding garden.


Jonathan Tuckey Design’s proposal was to remove the additions to the rear of the former school room and construct a substantial new building facing the church yard to the rear. This strategy allowed the chapel volume to be retained for a bright open-plan dayroom, housing kitchen and living room. By way of a contrast to this it was felt appropriate that the school room should house the family study. It was proposed that this room would have its intimate proportions enhanced by slightly lowering the ceiling to allow a guest bedroom above.

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To accommodate the changing level of the site it was proposed that the new building was dug into the sloping garden allowing two generous stories to be accomodated without rising above the adjacent building lines.

It was intended that the extension match the scale and status of the chapel itself, to compliment not compete. With this in mind it was conceived as a shadow of the existing chapel, the silhouette of the new building, echoing the simple nature of the bath stone structure with a certain reverence.

To compliment the bathstone and slate chapel, the walls and roof of the extension are clad in a blackened timber as a direct reference to the tin tabernacle churches, which are vernacular to the West Country. Within this dark surface, windows are glazed in a solarised glass which softly reflects the dry-stone walls and mature trees.

For the interior the weathered chapel floors, chapel pews, timber gallery and wall linings, and clear glass windows have been carefully restored. These were contrasted with new timber kitchen island and dining table. Continuing the language of old and new present on the outside.

A large wall of books takes the place of the former puplit rising up to the chapel ceiling 6m above.

The school room is centred around a wood burning stove, a room for quiet contemplation and study. Leading of that a transparent space links the chapel to the extension.  This is able to be opened entirely in the summer allowing the garden path the continue through the centre of the house.

Like the chapel itself the materials of the new interior are sparse and simple. Bare plaster walls, fibreboard joinery and concrete floors. The bathrooms are lit by rooflights framing the sky while the bedrooms have framed views of the garden.

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One wall of the bathroom opens to the outside to allow the client to bathe in the privacy of the walled garden.

Additional Information – Environmental solution

The clients accepted that the chapel and the school room would have different environmental standards. The existing chapel floor was lifted as part of the restoration and substantial insulation was added alongside the new underfloor heating. A new wood burning stove was installed in the family study making use of the existing fireplace.

By contrast the new extension was intended minimise an environmental impact in its construction. The materials used are largely made from recycled second generation components; composite timber ibeams, Oriented Strand Board, newspaper were used for the structure and insulation, while pigmented fibre board is used for the floor and internal joinery.

The resulting conversion is a house that has evolved over 5 years as a result of a long-term collaboration between the client, herself a theatre designer, and Jonathan Tuckey Design.

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