Downley House is a new country house built in National Park in the South Downs, in Hampshire. The client's brief sought tranquil yet playful spaces, of natural textures, contrasts, and indigenous materials. Architectural Parti & Context: The new house responds sensitively to its pastoral setting beside the ruin of the former house. The principle architectural aspect establishes a promenade from the vehicular approach through to the landscape. The drive arrives at a circular stone forecourt from which an oak pergola leads through an inner court where the ruin is re-interpreted as a romantic garden folly.
The internal circulation flows along the entrance facade and the primary stair ascends to roof gardens where a staircase bridges across to the hillside to complete the route into the landscape. Form: The home is composed of three elements; the Guest Wing, the Family Wing (containing living areas and bedrooms ) arranged either side of the double height Dining Hall which is aligned axially on the entrance portal of the ruin.
The clients are wine connoisseurs and the dining hall echoes the form of elliptical wine barrels. Innovation to ensure quick construction the house structure is constructed of cross laminated timber (CLT) panels, pre-fabricated in Switzerland and craned into place on site. The guest and family wings are constructed of flatpack CLT panels which are then clad with insulation and finished with stone, oak cladding or render. The barrel vault is constructed of laminated timber ribs over which curved CLT panels are fixed to create a structural shell. This is covered with insulation and clad with a beautiful with standing seams that spiral around the elliptical form.
Sustainability The CLT structure is an inherently sustainable low carbon product and much of the materials are sourced locally, including Purbeck Stone, Wealden Sandstone and oak cladding to reduce the embodied energy required to create the house. An array of ground source heat pump piping beneath the adjacent wild flower meadow, a heat recovery air circulation system and well sealed spaces has ensured that no heating has been required throughout this first winter other than providing hot water. Green roofs support bio diversity and help set the house into the rolling landscape.