"A good design can save the client money. I have often been told that by employing me, the client has saved my fees on either running costs, material costs and/or build costs. Poor design costs a lot in many ways."

Commanding views across Northumberland, this modest but finely detailed oak cabin was commissioned to become a grown up 'play space'. Constructed with an impressive mix of traditional joinery techniques and modern materials, the building has brought a beach bar flavour to the English countryside.

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A playful space, built to last. 

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Fitted out for year round entertaining

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Fine attention to detail allowing for natural movement in the oak as well as incorporating glass cills and worktops

This looks like a fun project. What was the brief from the client?

Oh it was fun. We had a great time designing, redesigning, rubbing out, red penning and basically creating a fun space with very little restriction on ideas or creativity.

The use of timber throughout is quite striking. What were you hoping to achieve with this?

Quality and permanence of space. I didn’t want to build a timber shed.

Do you have to take anything into consideration when building with timber? Do you have any advice for anyone who is thinking of going down this route?

Basically don’t do it unless you are ready for the upkeep they demand. Normally oak is a an amazingly durable and reliable building material, unless you ask it to do something its not entirely happy with so to speak. The window casements on this project are also oak and they move. They will swell and shrink over the seasons. They are organic and that’s a problem for finely machined joints and hand made window openings. Think very carefully and use a reputable designer and carpenter. Nothing else will do. Pay well, enjoy and pay once. Pay little, be irritated and the chances are you will pay twice.

For a project this size, where you are not designing a whole house, what is the benefit of working with an architectural designer over buying something 'off the shelf'?

Choice. Flexibility. Personalisation. Involvement (as much as you want or even don’t want). A good design can save the client money. I have often been told that by employing me, the client has saved my fees on either running costs, material costs and/or build costs. Poor design costs a lot in many ways. As I say, buy cheap - pay twice… eventually.

This project was all about creating a space for socialising away from the house. I imagine that you could take this design approach and apply it to a range of uses?

Absolutely. A space is a space is a space. Internal, external, both, underground, in the air, on the sea. If people use it, architectural design is relevant.


Project Name: The Garden Bar

Hub roles: Architectural design, planning submission, building regulations, construction drawings, interior design


Interested in this project? Get in touch to find out more or discuss your own big idea.