Clayworks plaster is produced from Cornish clays and natural pigments. The manufacturing process is low energy and uses only small amounts of water, minimizing its embodied carbon. James de Fraine , director of Natural Finish Plastering, is closely involved with the farmhouse plastering and is passionate about their product:
It is natural, breathable, healthy and keeps the room at an optimum humidity, so it just works. There’s something unique about it in comparison to other high-end finishes that sets it apart. It has a very warm, comforting and homely feel.
At the end of its life cycle, it is also completely compostable. With its sustainable and natural properties, the clay plaster married well with the vision for the house and surrounding farm.
The plaster can be pigmented with different colours and finished in a range of textures, from rustic to very smooth. The colour permeates right through the clay, so any knocks or scratches are masked. We worked with James to achieve a tone and texture that reflected the vision of a contemporary farmhouse. With its natural ingredients, on a large expanse of wall there is tonal and textural variations that create subtle movement in the surface.
The organic quality carries into the shape of the walls, with a fillet applied to corner junctions to emphasise a softness. The curves are subtle but give a sense of solidity and mass to the walls, as if hewn from a solid block, lending the spaces a monastic quality. James describes how the plaster is well suited to the curves:
It doesn’t seem like much to take the corner off, but it lets that tiny bit more light in, and it gives you a great bounce off the Clayworks. If you measured them, they’d probably all be different – but when you’re standing there in a room they all feel symmetrical, which is very satisfying.
From Granite & Clay
Working with Cornish Granite and Clay Plaster at The Argal Farmhouse, Cornwall
Woldon and Linea Studio Interiors are working with the emerging furniture designer, James Smith Designs, to transform Argal Home Farm, a Cornish farmstead, into a vibrant place to live and work. A new workshop facility and studio spaces for local businesses have recently been completed. In an ongoing phase of work, the team are designing a replacement farmhouse as a new home for the client. As construction approaches completion, we look in more detail at one of the materials defining the character of the house.
The design of the new farmhouse emerged from a brief for a low energy family home which maintains the spirit of Argal farm, embodying a calmness and connecting with its natural landscape. The proposals are contemporary, but rooted in a rich Cornish vernacular of granite, slate and timber. Adaptation of traditional details, often quite subtly, emphasises a sense of the new.
Throughout our work at Argal Farm, material choice - considering texture, colour and sustainability – has been key. The external walls are clad in granite from the local Caradon Quarry, with cast stone reveals around the windows. The granite was chosen for its grain and warmth of colour, with bat and bee habitats integrated into the stone elevations and at eaves level. While there is a softness to the shape and colour of the stone, it also gives the house a sense of mass and density.
The use of natural and sustainable materials continues internally, with a palette of pale timber, clay plaster and tadelakt, offset with dark ironmongery. The clay plaster is the work of specialists Clayworks from nearby Helston and is integral to the feel of the house. It is used for all the internal walls giving them a subtle texture, and lending the spaces a richness and softness which is hard to achieve with new industrial plaster.
With a clear vision for the house and a highly engaged client, a common working ethos has been galvanized on site across contractors, specialists and the design team. And for James the result is a tangible positive energy:
I just really enjoyed the whole vibe on the place, everyone who worked on the project were lovely, people around the farm were lovely, all trying to do sustainable things. All the products were right for the project, so everything came together really well.