This ancient defense tower in Suffolk, England has been transformed from a historic marker of a war-faring age into a remarkable one-of-a-kind home. The home’s designer and owner Duncan Jackson worked closely with Piercy Conner Architects to create a comfortable, contemporary living space that maintains the aesthetic integrity of the historically-registered defense tower. The project solved a set of thorny issues (a round building with few windows and 12 foot-thick walls) while creating a truly gracious home in the wetlands that preserves a unique piece of history. The resulting residence looks like it would be right at home on the Star Wars planet Tatooine.

historic retrofit, tower home, English house retrofit, Martello Tower, building retrofit, billings jackson design, Duncan Jackson, Piercy Conner Architects

At the beginning of the 1800’s a series of round defense towers rose across the English coast to protect the British Empire. Controversy arose when the proposal to retrofit the Matello Tower rubbed the historic society the wrong way — the rotund building was on the ‘at-risk’ historic register and is located in a flood plain. After much deliberation and design work an elegant solution was reached — a simple light metal roof rises above the top deck, while a circle of windows tucked beneath it allow generous light inside without overly disturbing the form of the original building. The only entrance is through a small door at the bottom that leads into a large storeroom once used for armaments and cannonballs.

The bedrooms are located on the first floor where windows would neither be practical nor historically responsible. A circular stair leads up though the vaulted ceiling to the living space at top. Windows along the brim of the tower open to the dramatic field beyond. A generous smattering of light tubes bring daylight into the heart of the space, illuminating of the heavy stonework that will be preserved for generations to come.

+ Duncan Jackson

+ Piercy Conner Architects

Via Guardian

Photos © Edmund Sumner