Text description provided by the architects. In 2013 Nick Baker Architects were commissioned to design a new 5 bedroom residence at Cobblers Hill, in Buckinghamshire. The commission for a private client located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sought to develop a house that would fit into its landscaped context.
The design of the residence has taken its prompt from the inherent context of the site. The gentle slope from the level of the existing building to the rear northern boundary identifies a change in level of 750mm. This creates a natural terrace. By introducing a clear line of separation of level from east to west the design locates the 'living' areas to the upper southern section of the site with its wide views and 'warm' aspect and the 'sleeping and guest' areas to the lower northern location. By offsetting the single storey forms from the central north/south axis of the original proposal, the design seeks to add the third area, the garage block, which forms the third side to a courtyard formation to clearly delineate an entrance area to the overall composition.
The articulation of the external facade has been designed to create a series of layers between the inner and the outer accommodation. Wide external covered terraces are mixed with internally lit corridors to provide continuous connections to the sylvan setting of the site. Natural daylight is brought into the inner areas but is not allowed to dominate. A series of full height screens are used to create a 'colonnade' around the building. This buffer zone works to protect the inner glazed areas from excessive sunlight and glare as well as providing visual screening to bedrooms and from the road. The colonnades also reflect the intermittent shaded character of the trunks of the neighbouring woodlands trees.
The building benefits from high insulation to ensure excellent levels of heat retention as part of its contribution to the environment. The materials for the design have been selected with care. The upper and lower level edge bands of the colonnade are clad with grey powder coated aluminium panels defining a clear edge of the volumes. The external panels to the screening elements are sawn sandstone and identify a vertical expression between the two bands. The external skin of the building volumes are in vertical clad red cedar and represent a softer more articulate inner layer that is related to the internal finishes.
The intention has been to build upon the identity of the existing landscaping of the site. The high canopy of the existing trees and the large lawn area to the south of the existing building create a woodland 'glade' character. This simplicity has been kept as part of the landscaping scheme with the retention of the lawn areas and the inclusion of only additional trees along the northern boundary. A 'random pattern' screen similar to the colonnades, this time in Beech hedging, has been added to the south eastern boundary behind the existing perimeter fencing to provide screening from the road.