After much more back and forth, negotiation, diplomacy and compromise the planning application was conditionally approved and we were able to proceed with building the new scheme. As most of the structural work had already been approved by building control as part of the original development, IAD Company came to an agreement with the building control inspector which enabled us to proceed with the main body of work whilst simultaneously putting together information on how we would be meeting the regulations that were now required as a result of the change of use, such as stricter fire regulations etc.
One area where the new scheme differed significantly from the original was in the mechanical and electrical servicing requirements. The new use of the site required a much more comprehensive level of servicing, which is reflected in the 12 miles of cabling that now runs underneath Ty Carreg. As the buildings are set on top of a natural solid stone shelf the work involved in digging out all of the required service trenches was mammoth. Furthermore, due to the un-permeable ground surrounding the barns huge drainage runs were required to discharge the surface water now being generated as a result of the hard landscaping introduced through the landscaping scheme.
The change from a predominantly soft landscaping to an almost entirely hard landscaping scheme was made at quite a late stage. Originally our proposal was to include a lot of green areas, flower beds and allotment patches for the end users to take ownership of following handover, but after lengthy consideration the planning department deemed the scheme to be too domestic for the setting and politely advised us to implement a more agricultural solution instead – which entailed the use of large areas of un-permeable hard standing.
Due to the levels surrounding site the only direction we were able to send the drainage runs was to the South. In line with the complex theme of the project what lay in the field directly South of the site was a registered ancient monument and what was assumed to be the burial grounds of the original inhabitants of the barns circa 1200-1500 AD. Given the nature of the ground we were digging in to an archaeological watching brief was required, and a very gradual and tense dig began.
Any delay caused by uncovering something interesting during the dig at this stage in the project had the potential to impact on the final handover date. To this day I still can not quite believe that we managed to dig over 100 meters through the field without running into a single noteworthy item. I am sure the archaeologist was very unsatisfied but for the rest of the team this was a massive result. One last note on the electrics. With a stone wall, such as those that make up all of the external walls of the barns, it is common practice to run electric cabling in face mounted conduits. Aesthetically this can be made in to a really interesting feature by using clever materials for the conduits and casings. However, due to the end-users who would be inhabiting Ty Carreg, surface mounted wiring was an absolute no-go – and due to the listed status of the structures there was no option to route any cables inside of the stone walls. This added another layer of complexity to our internal layouts as we now had to place all of our switches and sockets in to and on to the new internal stud walls. Some slight re-thinking lead to some minor re-jigging and soon after we had a new electric plan which was completely independent of any original stonework.
During the planning process our interior design team had been working hard on a full design package for the site. One of the challenges when designing a facility such as this is that you can never predict the individual needs of the person who will be occupying any one specific bedroom until the design has already been installed. The goal therefore is to create environments which feel individual whilst still appealing to everybody, and which are also neutral while remaining playful – all while providing everything required to run an institutional service within a homely and natural setting. Thankfully the interiors team at IAD relish a challenge! Through research, collaboration, experience and hard work we came together and created a scheme that was practical, playful, fun and functional.