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This week  James Wells Architects won an award at the 2021 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards Presentation.

This year’s winner is a stunning West Sussex retreat with three buildings created by JWA.

The family home in West Sussex, is situated North of the South Downs with spectacular views both South towards the coast and North towards the Surrey Hills.  This project comprise of three elements which James and the team designed.

530 30 ext night studio terr barn pool

Photographic studio on left, new build barn in middle and pool house on right

The first to be completed was a listed farm store which was repurposed as a photographic studio along with the adjacent Victorian stable which became a workshop. The original Fittleworth stone and timber structure was retained and a new interior scheme created working with the patina of the original building materials. Underfloor heating and a poured resin floor in the studio links through a short flight of steps to a timber floor in the workshop. Both spaces share a double sided log burner. A west facing wall of glazing enjoys stunning Summer sunsets as well as providing a panoramic view out into the landscaped garden.

A swimming pool was rebuilt and housed within a stunning new contemporary pavilion.  This minimal modern pavilion also accommodates a spa facility.  Glass walls slide back to link the elegant modern space into the sylvan garden and the local Fittleworth stone walling is juxtaposed with a slender steel structure to frame the space. The pool house has a sedum roof which as well as providing flora for the local fauna, helps to keep the pavilion insulated and reduces the rate of surface water run-off.

Finally a new build large barn gained planning consent through a carefully constructed argument based on aerial photographs that demonstrated an original barn had existed in this position. The new barn was designed using the salvaged local stone retrieved from the ruins of the original and detailed with beautiful, locally sourced oak. We created a gym with home office and library space over and several bespoke joinery pieces for the library, bar and stairs.

JWA worked closely with Nicholls Countryside Construction on this project.  Richard Nicholls and his team once again brought superb building and crafts skills to realise the three buildings.  Also in the 2021 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards, Luke Ayling won a Building Craft Award for his construction of the oak timber frame for the new build barn.  Luke had input with the concept design of the barn drawing on his considerable knowledge of historic timber framed barns.  The structure was all hand-crafted using traditional methods from semi-seasoned oak beams.

06 New Build Barn

Traditional hand-crafted oak structure of the new build barn crafted by Luke Ayling

James Wells comments, “This is the fifth year we have entered the highly regarded Sussex Heritage Trust Awards and I’m proud to be a recipient of an award once again. Sussex is a county steeped in a range of heritage building assets and it is vital building professionals continue to respect and enhance the amazing listed buildings we live amongst.”

The Sussex Heritage Trust Judges commented, “A well-considered and superbly executed project.  Particular praise should be given to the ‘new build’ elements of the scheme and the sensitive setting of the overall complex within the landscape.”


If you’re considering redeveloping a listed building or building a new house, please talk to us about the potential of your project and we can help you consider the possibilities available within the planning regime.

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