RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects): Downlands Award 2010
Location: Kent, UK
Type: New Build
Status: Completed 2010
Contractor: Qube Special Projects
Structural Engineer: Webb Yates
Photographer: Timothy Soar
The practice was commissioned to design a new build private house on a former garden nursery site in the heart of the Kent countryside. The nursery extended to over six acres with open panoramas and commanding views over the surrounding landscape. The project was to replace the existing house which was to; reflect the client’s environmental sensitivities, be contemporary in design, honest in its expression of form and material, and to be rooted to place. It was always envisaged that the house be principally constructed of timber. Its warmth, low carbon footprint and ease of future adaptability made it the natural choice. The challenge in this instance was to directly engage the lightweight timber structure with the steep sloping landscape setting, which would help reduce its visual impact and to create a more synergistic final composition. The building appears single storey upon approach; however a lower ground floor appears as the land naturally falls away. Externally the building was clad in European Redwood. Internally the building is lined with bespoke birch plywood panels to all walls and ceilings. The plywood has been used extensively to extend the architectural narrative throughout the interior and to further emphasise the complex geometry of the roofscape. Birch has been used for all internal joinery and each of the internal doors has a full height custom profiled timber pull handle integrated into it. The fine timber flooring is an American White Oak engineered board with a cross band sawn finish. These large boards with their varied texture maintain the scale of the interior spaces and are honest of their processing and are modestly detailed where they junction with the walls without any expressed skirting. The resulting composition celebrates the setting, and the materials used in the construction, designed with great care and constructed by real crafts people.