Albion Mill

Suffolk IP17

The post mill at Saxmundham dates from the early nineteenth century. A lightning strike in 1907 damaged the upper part of the mill. The sails and their associated timber housing were subsequently dismantled later the same year. The remaining roundhouse served as a store and later part of a petrol station, but for most of its recent history has been derelict.

The proposal to convert the mill into a dwelling sought to distinguish the form and mass that the existing roundhouse so notably represents. Within, the ancient timber post and beam assembly alludes to the timber superstructure that once sprouted from the top of the building. The desire to retain the single open volume inside the mill initiated the design process. The living, dining and kitchen areas would occupy the roundhouse and a new extension would contain the bedrooms and bathrooms.

The new building intends to present an absolute contrast of form and material to the heavy appearance of the grey brick roundhouse. The cedar-clad extension appears lighter and the single pitch of the roof creates a focus at the juncture to the mill form. The cylinder thus touches the timber box at only one point, creating a tensile relationship between the two objects. From certain angles the two buildings appear separate and the observer catches a glimpse of movement as the occupants move between the two.

The entrance hall within the new building expands towards the rear to form an integral glazed space that addresses not only the private garden but also the roundhouse. Of special interest in the design process was the notion of being able to experience the outside of the historic building without having to exit the dwelling.