Our client was well known to us and has spent a lifetime in the construction industry. Therefore when an opportunity arose to acquire a site, albeit complex it was seen as a positive challenge. This site in their hometown was to provide a family home suitable for entertaining and also to express the construction knowledge of our client. A keen eye on the way both structural timber can work and an integral use of fine quality elements would draw on our clients experience over the years. In particular skilled trades were rooted in the design as part of the process of delivery.
The conservation area setting was a major driver from the outset. Originally occupied by a modest bungalow in the shadow of Kenilworth Castle both Historic England and the Local Authority gave great guidance on the massing of the dwelling and how it sat in the landscape and when viewed from afar and above from the castle. This lead to support for a modest design which was lower in height and set back from the existing dwelling. Crucially we promoted the idea of three “soft” barns linked as a collection of small structures. developed to reflect on the curved ridge of the thatched building adjacent. This scale we all wished to be achieved at ground level would not create the accommodation required by the client so a basement solution was always promoted.
Emphasis on a crafted building was central when viewed from the castle, in close proximity by walkers and the occupiers. The scale of the brickwork, the texture of the diminishing course slate roof, the lead work and timber was central. Internally and externally the curved ridge plays an important role. Internal oak curved trusses were left alone with only the purlins on view at open ceiling level. With trusses with a detached ridge give a continuous simple interior roofscape. Externally large overhangs are used to emphasise the roofscape with an oversized lead ridge and hidden downpipes to simplify the form. The lightwells are lined with pale porcelain to draw light into the lower level and the large scale of these were maintained in order to ensure they were connected with the landscape. A robust concrete and brickwork approach was used to hold the thermal mass of a partially submerged building.