The ‘perfect’ composition of buildings and landscape at Flatford Mill, captured in Constable’s famous paintings, is also a visitor attraction and working environment and this design feasibility study addresses the challenge of siting a new staff accommodation building in an exceptionally sensitive landscape setting.
Informed by a detailed set of visual assessment studies, Sheils Flynn led the process of consultation with Babergh District Council, the Dedham Vale AONB, Natural England, Historic England and the Environment Agency. All agreed on a preferred riverside site which is invisible from the adjacent historic Flatford Mill complex.
The selected low lying site has a natural connection to the river and is frequently flooded. The design strategy responds with a building that is raised on stilts above the floodplain, with balconies overlooking the water. For much of the year, the building will be screened by the surrounding dense foliage, only emerging in winter when the trees lose their leaves. This seasonal presence in the landscape, and the inherent connection with the river, suggest an inspiring, integrated design concept.