Courageously Handling Crumbling Architecture

Handling rightly the disintegrating remnants of history can be tricky. Pastiche is rarely as impactive as juxtaposing the old and the new. Once grand ruins provide an intriguing opportunity to insert, bolt or cover with striking steel, cool concrete or elegant glass. Here are few structures that, thanks to brave architects, are turning heads once again.

Filling in the gaps of history. Blencowe Hall in Cumbria, England, uses glass and wood to ‘fill in’ the cracks in this beautiful building.

Old ruins with modern glass at Blencowe Hall

Dovecote studio was literally lifted in to this ruin. I love the rusted exterior complementing the remnants of red bricks.

Studio built inside a brick ruin

This Spanish building incorporated ancient arches with angular stone. Keeping the tone consistent makes this marriage of old and new a restful one to behold.

Old meets new in this stone building with beautiful arches

Oh this is nice. Such a dramatic location, very brooding. The strong boxy structure inside this shell of a lead smelt mill fits perfectly.



I didn’t spot this on my previous visits to Prague, but isn’t it wonderful? So elegant and harmonious. Corso I now houses office buildings, but as you can see this structure once had very industrial roots.

Glass structure inside elegant old building

Old industrail building in Prague, now a beautifully elegant glass structure inside

Astley Castle in Warwickshire, England, is a bold renovation full of confidence but handled with understanding.

inside Astley Castle in Warwickshire

Astley Castle in Warwickshire

Smart use of environment here. The life-worn brick walls are simply filled with panelled glass and steel allowing this office to feel a connection with its urban surrounds.

Glass extension between crumbling brick walls

Glass and steel office fits between characterful brick walls

Glass and steel office slotted into aged brick walls

A Scottish cottage gets more than a renovation, it pretty much doubles in size! Quite an idyllic island retreat that seamlessly blends in to its rocky landscape.


This steel and glass structure doesn’t detract from the gorgeous original design. The German castle has been made into a striking museum.

Modern architecture inside old crumbling building

With these once grand old buildings, beauty really can come from within. Whether a seamless narrative captured in colour and material, or more like a ‘an alien has landed’ approach I think this form of old meets new helps secure the importance of these spaces for the future. I wonder where the next few hundreds years will take them!


Barmy About Barns

What is it about barn conversions that I like? Well I recon you can’t go wrong with acres of wood, glass and light. They can of course turn out very wrong. When you try to squeeze a normal house-like space into a barn it doesn’t work. But for those who are prepared to re-think ‘house’ and indeed, space, they can be magnificent. Here are a few I like.

Wow, what a confident space. I love how it stares you straight in the face! The slit windows and giant door look more like a fort. The curved grey roof is a worthy feature.

Grey brcik and galvanised arched roof barn conversion

I love a beam, provided I am not going to hit my head (unlikely, 5ft 2 and 3/4s), or if they are ‘lets pretend’. These wooden wonders look just perfect against the crisp white walls and exposed brick.

Two chairs facing a wood burning stove

The oak frame here is happily highlighted by the sage green walls.

wooden interior with fresh county colours

Located in rural Switzerland, this home makes good use of contrasting textures and horizontal lines.

Lovely wooden vertical lines on this barn conversion

Another view inside another beautiful home. The infinite tiles and bricks are the perfect backdrop for some hugable topiary.

Beautiful converted barn with green formal landscaping

I like how open this space is, and the combination of wood, brick and black metal. An enviable island too!

Modern kitchen with wooden beams and exposed brick

Sometimes it is nice to retreat into a dark interior, I love the cut-out window of this bedroom up in the eaves.

Dark wooden interior with giant angled window

Moments of joy in architecture – this barn-shaped wooden frame links the two floors with striking grace.

Moments of joy in architecture

A bespoke kitchen that brings a balance of curves into an olde worlde space.

Wooden beams, range and bespoke kitchen

We end on a more rustic note, calming symmetry, and a view that goes on and on!

Rustic barn conversion

Painted Bricks

I am a lover of contrast, taking the rough with the smooth. Cosy interiors ladened with soft furnishings with a rough painted brick wall is right up my street. These are a few examples I have found that get it right. You want your home to still be a home and not resemble an Underground station, consider mixing the rustic with the clean and contemporary, glitz and glam.

Faded glamour with gilded frames and mirrors fit quite comfortably in front of white painted brick walls.

Painted bricks in the home

I love how this coffee house have kept the raw bricks in the shape of a map.

Map of the world on brick wall

The allure of classy black brick walls!

Classy room with black painted walls

I think the grey bricks work well in this setting, a light and airy space is elegantly achieved.

Grey brick walls

Having exposed brick in this very clean white space adds a little texture and interest.

Painted bricks in modern home

Black walls could be oppressive but here I think they like really classy. A great choice for a masculine office but I think you would need a very large window.

Matt black painted walls

Painting this brick ceiling picks out the gorgeous curve and bounces light around this stylish space.

Stylish dining with painted brick curved walls

Roughly white washed walls are contained by these chunking skirting boards and door frames. A lovely mixture of textures.

White washed bricks

Finally a splash of colour with this two tone forest green and white room.

Green painted bricks

To paint or not to paint? I am convinced.