Cobtun emerges seamlessly from the surrounding landscape. Approached along an unmade road, a curved earth (cob) wall shelters a series of courtyards. An entrance leads through the wall to the front door and circular top-lit hall. A sequence of south-facing living and bedroom spaces on one wheelchair-accessible level.
open out, flooded with sunlight and seasonally shaded by vines.

The site in Worcester Riverside Conservation Area falls gently down to the Severn. The client’s brief consisted of ten words: “Humour, mystery and fantasy. Ecological, sustainable, independent. Contextual, agricultural, invisible.” Deyan Sudjic described “its aesthetic qualities [as] like a seamless Richard Long wall piece” and commented “it’s as much an advertisement for the pleasure to be had in building … as a manifesto for sustainability.”

The materials chosen combine a refreshing modern aesthetic with environmental responsibility. The raw medieval texture of the earth wall is contrasted with horizontally boarded local oak, glass, and twenty-first century materials. Render, screeds and mortar use sieved site sand; doors use linen canvas with leather handles.

Energy conservation measures include solar panels to provide much of the hot water supply, PV, ultra high insulation levels and rainwater harvesting. Low energy lighting and intelligent controls are installed, with a high efficiency under-floor heating system.

“Sheer vision, seamless and unobtrustive …aspects of its construction are truly innovative. The outcome is inspirational.” RIBA Awards Jury

The project received RIBA Awards in 2005.

Client: Nicholas Worsley
Project Value: £0.35m
Completion: 2004
RIBA Architecture Award 2005
RIBA Sustainability Award 2005

more info

Back to projects