The project for The Bluff is a new five-bedroom villa in construction in the Chilterns, Oxfordshire. Due for completion at the end of 2011, the principal concept is that of the creation of a landscape rather than a piece of architecture.
The site is at the end of a typical country road which drops deeply to The Bluff, a promontory suspended above the Oxford plains. Built on the site of a former family home, the house is the pivot between formal and natural landscapes, with an oval yew edge with arches through which the entrance pavilion passes, and an extraordinary forest of tall beech trees.
One descends from the entrance pavilion, which is on an axis with both the access road and The Bluff. The house below is formed of two grass-roofed glass volumes planted with local specimens. The two pavilions are rotated towards one another. The pivot or the centre of gravity of the project is the library, containing on its walls the clients’ collection of objéts d’art, while the southern pavilion is cantilevered in the fine beech forest.
The house is the counterpoint between the formal 'entrance' garden and the wild nature of the beech forest, in the Italian landscape tradition of 'natura naturata'. The project uses many sustainable systems such as planted roofs, glass facades with sun screens, a biomass boiler, natural ventilation systems and rainwater harvesting, as well as low-consumption lighting. These are seamlessly a part of the architectural concept.
Design architect: LazzariniPickering Architetti, Rome Executive architect: Johnston Cave Architects, Oxford Structural engineers: Techniker, London Building services engineer: Atelier Ten, London