Gillespie Yunnie Architects were originally asked to look at the feasibility of a series of projects for the Abbey of which this is Phase 1. It was proposed to demolish and replace the existing ‘Works Department’ buildings with purpose built new accommodation on the current site. This included new workshops, studios, storage space, welfare facilities and administration offices.

Central to the brief was the Abbey’s desire to create an environmentally responsible solution that remains sensitive to its historic surroundings. Our response was to design a series of smaller, flexible buildings around the perimeter of an inner ‘service yard’.

Each building reflects a pragmatic response to the different activities within but together create a coherent ‘family’ of forms. Located at the edge of the main abbey site on the wooded banks of the River Dart, the walls and roofs of each building are monolithically clad in cedar shingles to form a soft, naturalistic edge against the tree line.

In contrast, the administration building is clad in copper to mark the transition into the main monastic enclave. It is linked to the adjacent St. Anthony’s building by means of a new stair and lift extension over the mill leat behind. The new buildings are constructed of cross-laminated timber panels with large expanses of glazing to flood the interiors with controlled natural light.