Old Rectory Cottage, Barcombe

We approached the renovation and extension of the dwelling with a clear focus on addressing circulation issues and enhancing accommodation while preserving the historic core of the original structure. Recognising the inherent cosiness of the ‘historic core,’ we aimed to restore its allure while rectifying the layout disruptions caused by previous piecemeal extensions.


Predicted A Rated




229 m2

Design Approach

The main focus was to create distinct focal points on the ground floor, creating a sense of spaciousness and connection between rooms. The first step involved the removal of outdated extensions, paving the way for the addition of a light and a spacious kitchen-dining room. This new volume was sunk into the ground, establishing a level threshold between the interior and the garden terrace. A striking feature of this space is a large wall of sliding glazed doors that effortlessly merge indoor and outdoor environments, offering panoramic views of the South Downs and surrounding landscape, including the client’s picturesque field. Another significant addition to the ground floor is the expansive family sunroom, characterised by a cantilever oriel window and oak clad window seat. This oriel window frames the views beyond and creates an inviting reading nook bathed in natural light.

HAPA Architects maximised the functionality of the existing porch by extending it slightly and introducing Crittall style doors leading to a central hallway housing the bespoke oak staircase. Recognising the clients’ need for efficient storage solutions, built-in joinery was incorporated beneath the staircase, optimising available space. Crafted from oak with black metal spindles and a gently curved handrail, the staircase stands as a focal point, contrasting elegantly with the concrete floor tiles by Maria Starling.

The expansion continued onto the first floor, where additional rooms were strategically positioned partly above the flat roof extension, forming a striking ‘M’ shaped roof. To maintain architectural cohesion, the first-floor extension was clad entirely in slate to match in with the existing roofing and establishing a material separation between levels. Three large zinc clad contemporary dormer windows add light to the 1st floor rooms, while creating a compelling feature to this elevation.

Through meticulous design and craftsmanship, HAPA Architects has revitalised Old Rectory Cottage, seamlessly blending modern contemporary design with timeless elegance while respecting its architectural vernacular.


A cornerstone of the project was the creation of a low-energy dwelling, achieved through a blend of innovative design, sustainable practices and modern technology. With a commitment to environmental responsibility, HAPA Architects integrated new-built extensions with eco-conscious upgrades to the existing structure. To enhance energy efficiency, all existing walls of the existing property were insulated, ensuring optimal thermal performance while preserving the historic aesthetic of the main south-facing elevation, crucial in a conservation area. The new build elements were meticulously designed with high levels of insulation, harnessing passive solar design principles to capitalise on winter sun exposure. This strategic approach not only minimises heat loss but also promotes natural heating of tile and screed kitchen floors. To mitigate the impact of high summer temperatures, a cantilevered roof was incorporated to shade the large glazed section, reducing solar heat gain and enhancing indoor comfort. Furthermore, a large part of the ground floor benefits from underfloor heating powered by an Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP), providing efficient low-temperature heating. This system is particularly effective in the kitchen, where the tall space necessitates a targeted approach to heat distribution. By keeping heat closer to ground level, where occupants reside, energy wastage is minimised, contributing to a sustainable and comfortable living environment. Also a PV array in the field, and battery, will give added onsite power generation of 10kWp to help reduce the dwellings electrical demands. All measures will increase the ‘demand side’ efficiency, reducing the strain on the national grid.



HAPA Architects prioritised sustainable and visually appealing materials to enhance the aesthetic and environmental performance of Old Rectory Cottage. The timber cladding, sourced from responsibly managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), showcases the natural beauty of larch wood. This light-toned cladding creates a striking contrast with the dark slate used for the first-floor cladding and roof covering, adding depth and texture to the exterior facade. The deliberate juxtaposition of timber and slate lends a dynamic visual appeal to the architecture, accentuated by the recessed volumes of the building. This interplay of materials creates a harmonious blend of contemporary design and traditional elements.

Photos by Jim Stephenson

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