Single Family House, 2008
Location: Ottershaw, Surrey
A new single-family house is to replace a small gabbled cottage where the client-family had lived for several years. The brief was developed with an appreciation of the family’s day-to-day activities and their already existing relationships with this alluring site. A tailor-made, environmentally mindful home, enhancing the family’s engagement with nature, was desired.
The proposed house is located on the edge of the wood with predominantly southern orientation. One approaches the house via a concealed path through the wood to the main entrance, which is formed at the junction of internal spaces. Upon entering, the interior and extensive lawn are revealed while a chain of spaces with subtle shifts and junctions creates a variety of inward and outward looking situations.
Rooms are orientated to engage with specific parts of the landscape at different times of the day. Carefully framed views include: a beautiful freestanding beech tree, the open lawn, a silver birch meadow, the thick wood canopy.
In a practical sense spaces are considered to be either ‘clean’ (living room, study and bedrooms) or ‘dirty’ (garage, kitchen and laundry). Clean spaces are understood to be ‘soft’ and expressed in a light-weight material, such as timber. Dirty spaces are understood to be ‘hard’ and expressed in a heavy, monolithic material, such as concrete. The house acquires its expression based on a composition of hard and soft spaces in response to family habits and site conditions.