Winner of RIBA’s top accolade for one-off houses, ACME Architects’ converted mill on the Broads is beautifully crafted and extremely charismatic, too
This one’s got some serious haters – mostly among local residents who think that ACME architects’ radical extension of this pretty Norfolk Broads mill (formerly the subject of many a jigsaw and chocolate box) is tantamount to desecration. But the architectural community disagree, and the house won the 2010 Manser Medal (RIBA’s annual award for the best new residential property) as well as a string of other awards.
ACME extended the Victorian mill-keeper’s cottage with a series of three shadowy copies of the shape of the original building, giving a black-clad concertina effect. The idea is that the extension is almost invisible from the River Ant on which it sits (part of the Broads): the cladding is charred cedar, once a local method of finishing buildings – Acme had to go to Japan to find craftsmen who could still do it.
The inside is idiosyncratic, with a wonderful double-height man living space pierced by windows and rooflights; upstairs in the five bedrooms the gable roofs dip down and back up again, each one with its own pleasing sense of irregularity because of shape of the building (the footprint looks a bit like a crooked finger). There’s also a really lovely contemporary cottage garden, plus enough board games, books and DVDs to keep you busy on a rainy day.
Nearby: Walking and boating on the Norfolk Broads; Norwich, half an hour away
Photos via Hunsett Mill