Text description provided by the architects. Located at the end of a lane that runs north from the High Street in the conservation area of Old Amersham, House 19 fuses traditional forms and local materials in an elegant and modern way to make full use of the natural aspect and orientation of the site.
House 19 is an exemplar of harmonious and sustainable contemporary design in the context of an ancient historic town.
The development of a simple plan and section delivered a house of exceptional quality whilst at the same time bringing together the most comprehensive range of passive and active energy-saving features in a well-considered, thoughtful assembly of light-filled spaces, suited to 21st century living.
The house captures stunning and long-ranging views over the surrounding Chiltern Hills from all the upper rooms and circulation spaces and modulates daylight and sunlight in the internal areas to dramatic effect.
Windows are carefully positioned to frame views to the Old Town and provide more expansive views to the south. The result is a tranquil and calm internal atmosphere that changes throughout the day and the seasons of the year.
In terms of materials the house is firmly rooted in the history of the area through the use of delicately dark stained vertical board cedar cladding, snapped-and-knapped luminescent flint (used for cladding and to create external walls), dark zinc roofing and accents of carefully placed corten steel.
As a result, the building adopts a commanding yet respectful presence in the context of the lane and also makes a contribution to the wider community with the inclusion of a clock on the rendered chimney, to the benefit of both players and public using the adjoining cricket ground and open
The architect's expertise in, and passion for sustainable design is evident in a combination of practical, robust, simple and deliverable design features that form the bedrock of the design approach.
These begin with passive measures and a building form that orientates the long axis of the house in an east-west direction, thereby enabling both beneficial heat gain in winter and the exclusion of solar radiation in summer, through the judicious use of a cantilevered roof overhang above the ground floor, south-facing glass facade.
A dramatic double-height space at the heart of the plan, coupled with opening vents in the long upper level dormer window, provides opportunity for passive stack natural cooling in summer months. Furthermore, PV panels contribute to energy generation and the whole house is heated through a ground source heat pump, which provides underfloor heating and hot water.
Other environmental features include air-tight thermally heavyweight construction and triple- glazed windows (in excess of current building regulation u-values) and an earth tube ventilation system that ensures running costs are minimised and internal conditions are as comfortable as can be.
Rainwater is harvested for toilet flushing, clothes washing and garden watering and appliances have been selected for the highest rated energy-efficiency available. A wild meadow garden and living roof to the single storey garden room enhance the strong ecological value of the site.
House 19 is a fusion of architectural moves, contemporary vernacular and pragmatic sustainability features and represents a benchmark for new houses in historic locations.