Unique private residence granted planning permission in Oxfordshire countryside
South Oxfordshire District Council Planning Committee voted unanimously in favour of granting an exceptional planning permission to an innovative and highly sustainable landmark dwelling designed by Spratley Studios for a sensitive rural location on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). In creating this striking, one-off design Spratley Studios overcame the issues surrounding a substantial increase in area on the site from 2,300 sq ft to 4,700 sq ft, and challenged the perceptions of architectural design in the area.
The corten steel clad, rectilinear home will replace an unassuming 1960s brick and tile clad house and redundant outbuildings. Highly commended by local councillors for ‘thinking outside the box and progressing the public’s understanding of contemporary architecture’, the scheme reveals a new local benchmark in sustainable and contemporary design, aspiring to meet level five, or potentially level six, of the Code for Sustainable Homes.
The implementation of energy saving solutions through considered design has been integral to the development process for ‘Beechwood’, with the emphasis on orientation and materials to utilise natural light and exploit thermal gains. Provision of renewable energy technologies such as a rooftop, photo-voltaic array, biomass boiler and ground source heat pump will help bolster key sustainable credentials.
But Beechwood’s aesthetic credentials are equally impressive. Whilst the range of ages and types of dwelling in this area, at the western most edge of Peppard Common, has resulted in little overwhelming design style locally, there is limited modern influence generally. By developing a contemporary design born from the narrative of the site and a re-interpretation of the vernacular buildings of South Oxfordshire, the architect has created a modern aesthetic that is visually arresting but not out of keeping. A clear hierarchy of elements, combined with a low-slung, flat-roofed form, enables the building to nestle comfortably into the site with minimal impact on the surrounding area. In fact, the dwelling is completely obscured by the existing landscape when viewed from the south in the AONB.
An autumnal palette of materials pushes conventional design boundaries and lends itself harmoniously to the surrounding woodland setting. The delicate wrapping of glazed walls in a seemingly heavy weathered steel hood creates a balance of heavy and lightweight, dark and light, solid and transparent that is engaging to the viewer and maximises views both through and from the house. The weathering steel ensures the appearance will soften with age and together with the dark brick looks to re-create the essence of the local black timber clad, clay tile-roofed vernacular buildings.
Commented Spratley Studios Director, Jeremy Spratley: “This project typifies Spratley Studios as a practice; we thrive on delivering a challenging brief on a challenging site and are proud to question architectural perceptions to bring new insight together with high quality contemporary design.”