Text description provided by the architects. Morris+Company has recently completed eight contemporary houses for retirement developer PegasusLife on the Wildernesse Estate in Sevenoaks, Kent. The extra-care housing scheme is designed as part of a holistic retirement community alongside the original Grade II listed country estate, which is currently being renovated by Purcell Architects. The project will support a wide range of accommodation and facilities, with eight new mews houses, together with a restaurant pavilion and a later phase of five free-standing villas, all designed by Morris+Company.
The eight mews houses are designed as an ensemble, subservient to the existing Grade II listed mansion. The houses are two- bedroom ranging from 957sq ft to 1687sq ft. Each home also provides a courtyard at the front of the mews to encourage social and communal engagement for the residents.
The mews have been built in accordance with the UK Government’s ‘Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation’ (HAPPI)* principles, offering good light, storage, ventilation, the flexibility of space, private ‘home zones’ and communal spaces. For example, existing pantry rooms and generously proportioned stairwells provide future flexibility to install a domestic lift, helping to future-proof the homes by anticipating how the needs of older residents may change over time.
The façade‘s massing is cleverly broken down through a recurring pattern of brick lattice, Juliet balconies that alternate between the front and rear elevations, and a stepped plan that allows for private outdoor patios that create a strong streetscape, as well as the opportunity for neighbourly engagement. Carefully crafted iroko carpentry, including custom-made benches and storage cupboards to each home’s entrance, complement the material palette and add warmth. Large windows characterise the design and work with the open-plan layout.
The vaulted roofs again reflect the hipped roofs of the original house and inside create dramatic, soaring ceilings on the upper floor, creating an expanded feeling of space on a relatively compact footprint. The houses reference the language of the Estate’s former stable yard, with the brickwork reflecting the Kentish Ragstone of the listed house, and its horizontal banding mirrored in the stone lintels of the contemporary design, cleverly hiding the recessed rainwater pipes.