'Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.'
Lao Tzu

Newbuild residence - Highworth, Wiltshire, 2004 - Project

Summary - These are sketches and a 3D computer model for a residence for a private client. The challenge of our client's brief was to fit a three to four bedroom residence including and integral garage onto a steeply sloping site measuring barely 20m x 12m. Added to this the residence could have no windows overlooking neighbours to the sides - so all light and ventilation would have to come from in front or above.

The accommodation comprises four large bedrooms, each with ensuite facilities, a lounge with a fireplace, and a Kitchen/Dining area under a two-storey galleried atrium.

Detail - Garaging had to be incorporated on site as we assumed that the Planners would not consider a proposal relying on on-street parking. The core of the plan is therefore a single garage/car parking space in the centre of the plan at ground floor level. The rest of the accommodation is disposed around this centrally-placed element.

The ground floor is treated as a half-sunk podium of brick, block or stone (here it is shown as brick) incorporating the garage and ground floor accommodation. The first floor was treated as a lightweight structure of horizontal board-and-batten in untreated timber - either Cypress, Douglas Fir or Larch. To each side of the garage is an entrance to the house - one on the left giving entrance to the ground floor accommodation, and one on the right climbing to the first floor entrance. These entrances are linked around the back of the fireplace mass by an internal staircase.

The main problem was how to get light to the area behind the Garage. The answer to this was to have a two-storey space there deriving its light and ventilation primarily from above - an atrium.The atrium incorporates the Kitchen/Dining area. The bedroom and bathroom accommodation at both levels is accommodated in wings to the left and to the right of this atrium space - each incorporating bedrooms/bathrooms at both levels.

The Lounge inhabits the space over the garage and looks back out over the entrance and on through the canopy of trees that line the street. It is intended to be a restful place, suffused with green light filtering through the leaves of the trees in summer, with the security and good outward views that a first floor Lounge offers. To the rear of the Lounge is a fireplace which shares a chimney stack with the boiler flue from the garage area below and various ventilation pipes.

The first floor was to be timber framed and clad in Douglas Fir board-and-batten sidings in contrast to the solid brick podium base. Planters were incorporated into the structure to give some limited opportunity for our client to do some gardening and also to soften the edges of the structure. The overhanging roof eaves and trellices were also intended to soften and give interest to what could otherwise be quite a blocky-looking structure.

The Planners opposed the scheme when showed the sketches, saying that development of the particular site did not fit into their development plan for the area. Our client decided not to proceed further.

Aerial view from the street. The two entrances either side of the garage can be seen, one on the left at ground floor level and one on the right at first floor level. The Lounge is located over the garage and looks out over the street.
Ground Floor plan. The site was not much larger than the house itself and no sideways-facing windows were permissible. The windows facing to the rear here are at the back of the two-storey high atrium over the Kitchen/Dining area.
First Floor plan. The atrium behind the Lounge/Garage can be seen here as well as the bedroom accommodation. All four bedrooms have ensuite facilities.
Street-level view. The raising of the Lounge over the garage gives it near-complete visual privacy.
Detail of the Ground Floor entrance and Lounge window wall. The trellices to the flat roof shade the windows from the steep rays of hot summer sun, and give interest to what could otherwise be quite a 'blocky' looking structure.