John Pardey Architects sent us this great second house on the village of Burley, England. The concept was based on the idea of creating a building that respects the nature of vernacular buildings by avoiding a single form in favour of what may be seen as an assemblage of forms, akin to the typology of farm buildings.
The challenge in designing a replacement house on the outskirts of the picture-postcard forest village of Burley, within a conservation area, was to make a building of its time that integrates with the context in an honest and clear way.
The programme for the house was divided into three functions; study/ guest accommodation; living; sleeping; interlocked around a central entrance hall. Overall, the plan defines an ‘L’ shape with its (masonry) back to the north and east and opens up to the cedar clad, south and west views.
At ground floor, white painted rendered walls wrap each of the three elements and each opens up to a different horizon – two are expressed with mono-pitch roofs, whilst the third is seen as a timber box a above the wall beneath a pitched roof with glazed gable ends. A large central chimney anchors the composition and reinforces the nature of hearth and home.
The clients, a young couple of Cambridge educated engineers with three children, gave us a very precise written brief right at the outset that stated the desire for, ‘a contemporary broadly open plan layout , but rather than one single massive space we envisage distinct areas each with their own function. These should feel at the same time both separate and linked.’
The brief laid emphasis on the kitchen and dining space as central to family life, so we made this dramatic by using a double height space (once a traditional device in the country house) ; we attempted to make the kitchen as un-kitchen-like as possible, by use of simple oak faced cabinet doors and matt grey basalt worktops that cloak the usual paraphernalia (only the purpose designed stainless steel sink signals its function). This space connects to one side to the stone floored, top-l it entrance hall (formal dining and piano) and to the other, to a fairly snug sitting room that faces an open fireplace. The fireplace rises up through the double height space and supports a cantilevered staircase that serves a smal l balcony (a modest library and reading bench) and the master bedroom that has commanding views across the small valley and stream to the rear of the house through a large f ixed glass wall, with cedar ventilation panels to one side.
A Juliet balcony, with oak shutters, opens into the kitchen space below and allows the parents too keep an ear out for the children. The bedroom contains only an oak-made double bed we designed, with a cantilevered foot that acts as a seat to the view.
Children’s bedrooms are tall, wedge-shaped rooms that use the mono-pitch form to allow the rising sun in through a slit window at high level above a storage area that straddles the passageway and wardrobes. Large fixed window panels have cedar boarded stable-door panels to one side in each room.
The study and guest room are l inked by an orange coloured wall and doorway, to act as a small suite; the study can be entered independently from the entrance lobby and contains a spiral wine cellar beneath the floor.
The family bathroom at the end of the house doubles up as a laundry room; a low window allows views of the animals in the fields beyond whilst enjoying a warm bath.
This 195 sqm house, built to a very high specification cost £1,739 sqm to build.