RIBA South West & Wessex 2021 Award Winners
Corten Courtyard House
This house is on an end of terrace triangular plot in inner-city St Werburgh’s, Bristol. It is an intensely urban spot, bounded on one side by a busy street and on another by a public footpath alongside a park containing mature plane trees, one of which overhangs the site. The client spotted it from her daughter’s house next door when it was an empty yard surrounded by a high brick wall covered in graffiti. The wall and the graffiti remain, whilst within it, the small and very difficult site has been exploited with considerable aplomb to create a delightful home.
The house forms an L-shape leaving a small triangular entrance courtyard paved in brick, with steps bringing the house up above flood level. The interior layout has been designed around the client’s limited mobility. In the centre of the plan is a dining kitchen, with the main bedroom and a tiny living room occupying the ends of the L-shape. A stair takes you up to a second bedroom and an expansive roof terrace, nestled under the big plane tree with open views along the street and across the park.
The house is timber frame construction, clad in Corten rusting steel, which rises up above the brick boundary wall and descends down into the courtyard, its purity contrasting with the rough, graffiti-strewn fletton bricks below.
The success of this project is testament to a client and architect working in harmony. Some unusual decisions have been made, chief among them being to keep the existing wall and to celebrate it. Built to a limited budget, the house is exemplary in doing a lot with a little, and in turning constraints into opportunities. It provides a home perfectly suited to its client’s needs, and has transformed an unloved urban corner into a talking point and landmark for the local neighbourhood.