Third life for country chapel

25 Nov 2011

Resonances of original chapel seep through new three-bedroom family home

The site was formerly the location of a converted chapel. Having suffered severe subsidence, the clients decided to demolish it and build a new three-bedroom house which would take better advantage of the site.

The site is at a prominent bend in the road where an old drover's track meets a large oak tree, marking the boundary of this small village. The architects realised that in replacing it they needed to take full advantage of the long views across the surrounding farmland.

The building's composition resulted from a response to its local and historic context. In plan, it is broken down into two slim, offset blocks. The block facing the road has an apsidal form; a memory of the demolished chapel.

The two storeys of the house are distinguished on the outside by the white brick plinth of the ground floor and the pale render and tile hung walls of the upper floor, echoing local vernacular construction. This distinction is continued internally with the expansive first floor living area contrasting with the private sleeping quarters of the ground floor, which is dense with detail and materials, including oak, black stone and a brick vault.

The house and garden were designed as a single entity, carefully integrating the project into its site. A strip of planting extends from the house along the central axis, following the underground routes of the rainwater harvesting and heat pump: a visual indicator of the sustainable technologies that have been integral to the design.

This house engages with its wider landscape and fully utilises its unique setting, giving the clients a dramatic and comfortable home and continuing the variety, scale and material richness of the village.

Sustainability: The house uses a ground-source heat-pump, passive solar techniques to make use of thermal mass and recycles rainwater.

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