Text description provided by the architects. The client’s brief was for a replacement high quality contemporary dwelling that would take advantage of the site’s topography, with its gently falling gradient which falls away from the road to expose stunning views across the surrounding Cheshire landscape.
The site located in the Conservation Area of Halebarns, Manchester was originally occupied by a 1970’s single storey dwelling, overgrown with its associated landscaping that neither utilised the setting and its surrounding landscape, nor provided the client with the required accommodation to suit their needs and aspirations of a family home.
The plan and form of the building responds to the orientation and views from the site, whilst taking advantage of the 8m fall on the site. The building principle is formed by two blocks, set at different levels, one of which incorporates a double height living space that has been lowered into the existing gradient of the site, whilst still respecting the existing covenant on the site for a single storey structure (based on the original structure). Due to falls of the site the entrance into the building is via two bridges, one concrete vehicle bridge into the upper level garage, or the lightweight steel and glass pedestrian bridge onto the mezzanine floor that provides a view through the double height living space and towards a single silver birch tree, and new external landscaping beyond.
The main stair descends into the double height space, with a ‘carpet’ of fumed oak floor, that also leads you down the corridor of the bedroom block, with its suspended pre-cast concrete louvers above, and oak floor that extends into the landscaping through the frameless glass, towards the undergrowth of the surrounding trees. The corridor almost becomes an external space between the two wings of the bedroom block due to its frameless glass and concealed rooflights mullions (that are concealed by the concrete louvers) creating a transparent view of the surrounding environment. This corridor provides access to all the bedrooms (including en-suites), gym and study via full height pivot oak doors. The various rooms utilise concealed full height and width glazing, with expressed sliding doors elements, that provides both views and private access into the surrounding landscape.
The double height space of the living space is dominated by the 5m tall, full width glazing to the south, with its external oak louvers at high level (providing suitable shading to the internal space during the summer months, whilst permitting shafts of light to penetrate the space during the winter months), accompanied by the 8m tall chimney structure that penetrates the roof. The kitchen is adjacent to the living space, and provides numerous views through the living space, and back up towards the road and bridges. The two spaces can be separated by a full height x 4m sliding oak door.
The client’s requirement for the interior was that it is simple in its detail and appearance, so all the grilles associated with the air conditioning, blind boxes, glazing frames, door frames, and storage spaces etc have been designed so that they are not visible, and do not detract from the simple form and clean lines of the building, and its surrounding views.
The building is constructed of load bearing blockwork walls, with supplementary steel structure to achieve the required spans, and pre-cast concrete planks to the roof and garage floor. The external finishes comprise of an insulated render system with a Jura limestone rainscreen cladding plinth at low level, with flush limestone coping stones and associated stainless steel drips. Oak has been used throughout the building, with the external doors and louvres, being oiled oak which have been utilised to ‘soften’ the facades, whilst internally we have used a mixture of fumed oak to the floors, and white oiled oak for all the full height internal doors.
The landscaping and entrance gate have been designed in conjunction with the house, providing subtle statements that compliment that architectural design of the house, and provides glimpses of the internal detailing of quality of materials used. It is unfortunate that so few people realize the benefits available by constructing their own house using an architect – both in terms of quality of product and value for money. Our client’s have enthusiastically entered into this project and we believe the outcome is not only rare but may constitute to showing the possibilities to a wider audience.