Clients: Peter & Carole Lillywhite
Landscape: Manx Wildlife Trust
Consultants: XCo2 – environmental and sustainability
Collaborators: West Country Blacksmiths and John Hesp – staircase
Contractor: Organic Construction Solutions
Text description provided by the architects. The Sartfell Restorative Rural Retreat is the result of a unique collaboration between the clients - a retired couple whose background combines biological science, medicine, and education, the architect Foster Lomas, and the local charity Manx Wildlife Trust.
The Client created a brief for the restoration, conservation and management of the 7.5 acres of Nature Reserve on Sartfell Mountain. The long-term vision is to rewild the site with native woodland, meadowland and acid bogs which are home to rare orchid species.
Our response to the site draws on our previous research of drystone construction whilst working in Abruzzo, Italy. We have reinterpreted this vernacular technology and local Manx stone structures to create an original building in its unique setting.
Harvested from the site, the drystone walls allow local ecology to inhabit voids within. Its organic rooftop emulates the flora of the immediate area and complements the drystone walling. Over a period of time, the walls will subtly become part of the landscape, with minimal impact on the land.
The signature feature of the house is a ribbon window that wraps around, framing the sweeping views of the Mountains of Mourne, the Irish Sea and the Mull of Galloway, to the delight of the pair of ornithological enthusiasts.
All the spaces are ordered around a staircase core forming a triangular plan that elegantly accommodates the library. The drama of the staircase is topped with a clerestory that frames the study and its exposed concrete interior. The poetic orientation of the stairs aligns the ascendance with views up to the mountain, whilst the descent directs views down into the valley.
The entire site is carbon neutral in operation, equipped with ground source heating harnessing energy from a nearby lake, a natural processing sewerage system and a wind turbine. Weather conditions were monitored prior to construction with the introduction of a weather station capturing data to achieve optimum level of the retreat’s environmental performance.