Private house kitchen atrium interior

- Residential

Private House, Sevenoaks: Traditional form meets sleek, sustainable design

Private client




Roger FitzGerald


Designing houses well is one of the most important challenges for an architect – particularly when those houses need to respond to a complex, traditional setting. Our challenge was to design this house in Kent as a daringly modern response to its historic surroundings, taking a highly sustainable approach. The family wanted their home to be a haven of quiet, taking advantage of stunning views over the Kent Downs and including spaces to display works of art.


Approach + Solution

Taking inspiration from local Wealden houses and the Arts and Crafts style, we designed the house around a spacious double-height atrium which serves as the connective heart of the building. Traditional forms playfully rub shoulders with unique, contemporary details: steeply sloping roofs with quirky feature windows framing views of the street and landscape beyond, a “floating” timber staircase, deep slate sills and ledges to display modern art.

We delivered the project as Corde – our multidisciplinary offering with AKS Ward and KJ Tait. This helped us to make sustainability a core priority from the outset. The house is heavily insulated on three sides, with wide south-facing.


windows to capture the winter sun, and tall chimneys for natural ventilation. We also used a suite of modern technologies to reduce the house’s carbon footprint, from PV solar panels to ground source heat pumps.

The result is both an architectural success and a personal, comforting family home – a home which our client calls “both calm and exciting: the flow from open space to more enclosed areas works perfectly.” It sets a new bar for sustainable housing, and proves that contemporary, high-quality design can pay homage to traditional forms, rather than rejecting them.

The project has been shortlisted for a RIBA South East 2020 Award.

“This project was an intriguing challenge. It’s all about environment: our client wanted a house that would be peaceful, open and transparent, but also capable of being closed down into cellular private spaces.”