Life's a beech...

06 Jan 2012

Paul Vick Architects design an inspirational dwelling in south west of UK

The clients brief was deceptively simple: to provide a place where they could retire and enjoy the rest of their days.

Nestled on the side of Dartmoor, the clients lived on the neighbouring property for their 47 year married life and had a deep attachment to the area. This West Country 'place' was fundamental and raised profound issues inherent to the local context. 'Beeches' is named after the trees on the site.

The house is designed to consume little energy. It meets AECB silver standard. The thermal performance is 3- 4x better than standard building regulation requirements. Rainwater, of which there is plenty, is recycled as grey water within the house.

The house is designed to Lifetime Homes standards allowing the permanent layout and architectural structure to remain in place for the occupant, even if in a wheelchair and the annexe used for a carer rather than for visiting children or grandchildren.

The west country light is silver with rich green valleys, in response to the latitude and moisture laden atmosphere of warm Atlantic air rising over Dartmoor.

The roof is copper. It is a response in warmer tones to the silvery sky and references the molten birth of the igneous batholith that forms Dartmoor. The warmth and animation of light is further enhanced by a reflection pool, careful positioning on the site and a pitched ceiling to follow the roofline with light interiors and careful positioning of the house on the site

The main room is conceived as a pavilion across the garden. The rest of the accommodation is on the north side. As well as full height, wide double opening doors and windows on the west (5.4m wide closed, up to 3.6m open) facing the views and evening sun, there are windows approx 2m high x 1.8m wide on the east and south behind the reflection pool. Gardens are visible on both sides from the main room and the windows can be opened to allow the air to flow straight through. The house, in particular the east elevation, has been located to pick up any sun at dawn for most of the year, and again at midday when the sun has passed around the taller adjacent house. Sun angles at different times of year were calculated at the outset of the design process and plotted onto the site to achieve this.

Making an inspirational dwelling in south west of UK with beautiful responsive light, a direct and open relationship to the landscape and at the same time making it a low energy building that can be enjoyed for a long time has been the aspiration.

Key Facts

United Kingdom

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