- Structural Engineer:milk structures
- Approved Inspector:STMC Building Control
- Main Contractor:Silver Square Construction Solutions Ltd
- Client:Jonathan and Ana Maria Harbottle
- Contract Value:£250,000
- Design Team:Jennifer Frewen, Charlie Luxton, Takero Shimazaki, Meiri Shinohara
- Country:United Kingdom
Text description provided by the architects. A conversion of a derelict 1960s modernist house in the outskirts of Amersham, Buckinghamshire, the house has multiple aspects and is sited next to a local Church and surrounded by the Buckingham woodland.
Reflecting the economic downturn post 2008 and with a limited project budget, the design developed out of the architectural language of the original house; the owners and the architects working as much as possible to maximize the existing structure.
Most of the original brickwork was retained and added too. It was clear that no matter how carefully we tried to match the brick a homogenous finish would not be achieved, It was decided to paint the brick and the black was chosen to make the house recede into the shadows created by the surrounding woodlands. One half of the roof was raised to create a taller, sharper, pitch to the living room. Bedrooms were placed in the other half, retained at its original pitch, with an additional volume projecting into the garden to create a larger master bedroom. A new glass entrance lobby has also been added to open up the front of the house.
The family recently relocated from London to enjoy life within the Buckingham woods. The house is Phase 1 of 3 phases that will include additional spaces for quieter activities such as a study/guest house (Phase 2) and a green house (Phase 3).
Views of the house’s woodland surroundings were made through careful amendments to the existing openings, with additional apertures focusing on specific viewpoints including the church, immediate and distant woods and the newly planted wild flower garden to the front of the house.
Without any curtains or blinds, the house is a transparent black viewing box, its external walls reflecting or absorbing the surrounding nature throughout the season. The interior is realized in a light grey tone with all joinery including windows and doors in oak. The contrast of dark and light makes this building highly ephemeral and reflects the family’s aspirations for more dynamic living. The house is often used as a shelter for music events (with all the doors and windows open!), gatherings for local families and children as well as a quiet retreat for the family.