Whilst the clients loved the community they lived in and also the location of their existing ‘quirky’ cottage, they knew that the layout, constraints and limitations of their current house would not be suitable long term. They needed a lifetime home and wanted wonderful, light filled spaces within which to live and to entertain friends and family. They sought a different way of living. A new purpose designed home sitting within the garden, adjacent to the existing was the answer.
The relatively narrow residential curtilage of the plot which their existing cottage occupied meant amenity space for both dwellings needed careful consideration, as did the relationship with the existing cottage to maintain privacy. Our proposal aimed to revive an underutilized area of the site with a new contemporary sensitively designed sustainable dwelling, exploiting the rural setting and views and designed to meet lifetime home requirements.
The dwelling’s form, layout and scale evolved entirely in response to the existing cottage, although the character and arrangement of spaces within the new design are handled very differently. The new house is conceived as an ‘upside down’ house. In plan, the existing external landscape taken by the footprint of the new building, is ‘transferred’ from ground level up to the roof, creating a rooftop garden which gives outstanding elevated views as well as replacing the ‘lost’ ground and helping to merge the building into the landscape by providing a continuation to the surface of the site in a truly upside down house. In addition the approach of this sensitively positioned and discrete dwelling uses ‘grasscrete’ to create a ‘driveway lawn’. The traditional arrangement of ground floor and first floor accommodation in the existing house is then inverted in the new house, providing bedrooms and bathrooms on the Ground Floor, with direct access to the garden, whilst the open plan living accommodation is raised up to first floor, with access to external terraces. The proportions of the proposed are driven by the levels of the existing property. Despite all these measures the scheme was refused planning permission on policy grounds and consent was only granted at Appeal.
In response to site orientation and context, the North facing elevation remains sheltered and private against the heavily planted, tree lined public boundary to the common, whilst the building envelope opens up towards the south to maximise the benefits of views, light and controlled solar gain. The carefully considered interior provides a series of views and spatial connections in and through the building, organized off a double height void, capped with a large strip of roof glazing which drapes light over the virtually solid north wall and into inner spaces at both floors levels. The building interior is legible with clear and generous circulation routes, including a lift, and visual relationships between the main entrance and the principal areas of accommodation. A minimal palate of materials within the interior creates a simple and clean ‘backdrop canvas’ bathed in natural light for the client’s furniture and paintings.
Double height entrance hall with large roof glazing
Entrance hall to the wonderful view complemented by a wood burning stove
Kitchen, Dining and living space
Connections between floors
Study with a wonderful view and curved stair core
The north façade is well insulated with few windows