Text description provided by the architects. The clients had fallen in love with the beautiful site on the outskirts of the market town of Morpeth, and so did we; steeply sloping and edged by woodland, it is a wonderful, challenging context with a brief to create a family home sympathetic to the setting whilst embodying the excitement of a woodland hideaway.
The building adapts to the sites contours, with arrival separated from private south facing kitchen-terrace, with the garden to the north exploiting the only flat section of the site and offering further privacy and connection to natural context.
There is an intentionally rich palette of materials; like a Thomas Bewick woodcut or the woodland texture around it, the building is made of different grains and surfaces; natural but under precise control with slate shingle cladding to the lower sections and untreated timber above.
The cruciform arrangement divides the site into areas of varying privacy and the material treatments give the appearance of a series of single-storey volumes, reducing the impact on the site whilst creating a playful relationship; slate and brick belong to the earth while the timber elements are of the woods and sky, like a treehouse floating above.
The site had remained undeveloped for several years due to the difficult ground conditions and the fact that services, including the water main for the nearby town, ran straight through the site. This required extensive works to relocate these services on the relatively narrow site, and the original design evolved to accommodate this. An extensively piled foundation solution was therefore required and this restricted the budget further.
The Dell project has it all; fraught with significant problems, the client, design team, contractor and architect worked together to create a building of the highest quality. Settling harmoniously into its site, the project develops new detailing and ways of using materials with traditional skills. The planning appears effortless but is perfectly honed to the site and the way the family use the home. It is a project with which all those involved are incredibly proud.