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.
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.”– ROGER FITZGERALD, PROJECT DIRECTOR