A house in the woods
contemporary architecture in a rural wooded site.
This project is a commission for a private home in a beautiful setting: a half-acre of mature deciduous woodland, with a view of the Blackdown Hills. The topography, flora, seclusion and aspect, taken together, offered an exceptionally rich challenge and opportunity.
Our client gave us clear guidance on how they wanted to live on the site, how they would spend their time, and we were entrusted with a design for a new home.
I started, as with all sites, trying to understand through sketches, hoping to capture an essence. How does it feel to stand here? Poetic qualities, as I interpret them, are expressed in figurative and abstract scribbles.
Next, I start to test ideas of what could occupy this place. Where and what focal points, divisions, enclosures, through-routes, lines of site, which will inform and guide a proposal.
Alongside this perceptual catalogue are the objective and pragmatic qualities, that must be appeased: access, drainage, ground conditions, exposure.
The next stage is sketch models, used freely and experimentally, constructively and destructively, playing with, angles, planes, apertures, crystallising doodles from the sketchbook into physical forms.
Objectives emerged: movement through the site, glimpses from front to back, an anti-monolithic approach to the house. Plans were attempted, amended, and after a process of consultation with my (excellent) client, a design was reached, formalised and submitted.
Planning permission was achieved in spring 2017,
a detailed construction package was produced and tendered, and building will start in summer 2018.
The house sits on the boundary between open land to the north, mature woodland immediately south. The design is lead by the porosity of the zone: fragmented masses with apertures between the blocks (jokingly called firmitas, utilitas, venustitas) focussing flow of space and light across the site , through the house, front to back. Elevations look out, to distant views to front, and to a tree canopy behind.
A second organisational principle is an axis of privacy across the house, from side to side. Starting at the entrance of the house, the "public", plant and utility zones occupy the smallest, plainest, white-rendered block, adjacent the entrance hall. Moving across the building, the next, central, zone is dining and kitchen (semi-private), then finally arrival at the end block, the most private, which houses a snug and bedrooms.
You can explore a 3D model of the design here, VR ready for any viewer.