The haha house has temporarily lost its scaffold cloak revealing the outline of the composition of volumes waiting to be clad in Blue Lias stone, dark stained larch battens and grey render. The stunning triple glazed windows are in and the building is now weather and air-tight. We have been working with MBC Timber Frame for the superstructure, which includes insulation and air-tightness design and installation. So we can’t take credit for the air-tightness but we’ve achieved 0.7 which together with the super-high insulation levels will ensure this is one comfortable, and very energy efficient, house to live in.
Focus is now turning to the finishing details with external cladding about to start whilst the interiors are beginning to take shape – the beautiful large format porcelain tiles already giving the feeling of being inhabited.
For the first time, we’re on site with more than one project at a time. This one is for two extensions to an existing house in Bradford on Avon – and the project is all about capturing the incredible views.
It’s been a muddy start for the first month, but demolitions are now complete and the foundations are nearly there.
Last night we experienced our first planning board meeting, which we’d like to think is a good thing – to date we have had a very strong approval record for our planning applications. However, this application caught us off-guard. We thought that our proposals for a loft conversion and front porch was a clever overhaul and conversion to an otherwise unassuming bungalow, and modest in scale compared to what is otherwise typically allowed by for example permitted development rights. So we were rather surprised when the planning officer recommended refusal.
However, our proposals had been highly commended by the local Parish Council and the application therefore went to the Planning Board. So last night we nervously awaited the councillors’ debate which in the end didn’t last long – we gained approval by a clear margin! One councillor even exclaiming “I’m not sure why such a good design has even been put in front of us by the planning officers – it’s great to see this sort of intelligent re-use of fairly average houses. This clearly should just be approved”.
Our proposals seek to convert a poor existing loft conversion by inserting a dormer to the front elevation, and continuing the structural walls of the existing rear outrigger extension to form a 2 storey volume. Both additions will be largely glazed to take advantage of the stunning rural views over the Mendip Hills and the Somerset countryside, with glazing set deep into Douglas fir timber fins that will provide necessary solar shading.
Along with a generous front porch extension, providing a covered entrance for muddy boots, the house will get a general overhaul to bring this pebble-dash bungalow into the 21st century.
The design for our house in the Somerset countryside is all about making references to the landscape. It literally grows from the haha wall, with cows and horses grazing right outside the living room. We can’t wait to see the combination of Blue Lias stone cladding, black stained vertical timber battens and dark grey render envelope the volumes which will root these buildings into the landscape.
Inside the views are deliberately captured throughout the house, and it is starting to look very promising. Mac the dog has already taken to sitting in the corner window studying the cows!
After nine months of building works the dust has now settled and we’ve moved into our new home. It is incredible to watch the space being occupied, to hear the laugh of children whilst playing hide & seek, or shouting peekaboo when peering over an edge or through the internal windows into the triple height central void space, or seeing town life drift by outside the stunning new windows onto Silver Street.
We are absolutely thrilled with the result and just staying at home has taken on a new meaning. We love the balance of new materials; painted steel, white stained Douglas fir planks, crisp white walls, brushed stainless ironmongery, and birch plywood – against the white washed textured old stone walls, the exposed brick chimney, the carefully sanded back old floors and the retained cast iron steel column and beam. To us, the new tiled ground floor, called Fossil, is homage to the archaeological process we’ve been through to carefully breathe life back into this beautiful building, balancing its industrial past with an unapologetic contemporary intervention that fills every space with a wonderful light.
Yes, we know, it’s not finished yet, there are plenty of details left to be completed, and a garden courtyard to attend to, but we’re more than happy to go about this in our own time. We are exceptionally proud of this project and for having got it this far – thanks to everyone who has been involved in getting us to this point.
Our HaHa House in the Somerset countryside is beginning to show itself and the site visits are becoming increasingly more exciting! The views are going to be incredible and it’s so nice to see the new relationship that this house will have with the wider landscape take shape.
It’s also very exciting to see just how quick a pre-fabricated timber frame system goes up. After a spring spent preparing the groundworks, the HAHA retaining wall and the superinsulated concrete slabs, the timber frame to the new studio was starting to take shape within 2 days of the team arriving. By the end of next week most of the main house structure will be up too after which it won’t be long until the roof is complete and the windows are in leaving a weather tight structure ready to be insulated and made air-tight.
We’re very excited to have won planning permission for this small, but really fun project in Bradford on Avon. It’s a fairly modest kitchen extension to a stunning town house, and we’re hoping to bring a little bit of the ‘big city’ to our home town. By big city we mean that this type of side return extension is almost run-of-the mill in London these days with Pinterest and other design websites filled with great examples carried out with great skill and attention to detail, but around here similar projects are scarce indeed.
New structure is incorporated to support the upper floors effortlessly with lots of glass providing top-light to an otherwise deep plan at the interface to the original house . The result is a far more user-friendly plan instead of the long narrow existing kitchen, filled with light and opening up seamlessly to the rear garden to extend the living space when seasons allow. Kitchen, storage and seating are all pushed to the edges to maximise circulation space.
For us, this is what all contemporary kitchen extensions should aim to achieve.
We are thrilled with the result from today’s air-tightness test for the Vintner’s conversion. We got a reading of 2.6 m3/m2h @ 50 Pa which we’re extremely proud of.
It is a tall order to avoid air leakages at all interfaces and junctions when working with an existing building, but we have been obsessing about these details since the inception of the project. The Vintner’s adopts a combination of a new airtight roof membrane with 350mm of wood fibre insulation behind, double glazed new aluminium windows and doors, air tightness tapes around all windows and penetrations, and using an MVHR (mechanical ventilation and heat recovery) system.
To many the test result means very little, focus is often on material finishes and spatial qualities, which we also obsess about – but in a world where we need to minimise our energy consumption and reduce carbon footprints, this is the measurable result of what can be achieved when working with an existing building, which is also listed Grade II.
The test result means that we will now know that the MVHR system can operate efficiently, recycling the heat of the building whilst providing excellent indoor air quality, and equally important, we’ve minimised heat losses through air leakages which will ensure a very comfortable home with next to no draughts.
We have had a very exciting and busy start to the new year with three projects due to start on site in the next few months, and with lots of new enquiries we’re looking forward to a promising year ahead.
Meanwhile, our project to convert the listed building at the Vintner’s is progressing fast and behind the scaffold a new house is beginning to take shape. All of the structural openings have been formed ready for the windows to arrive in a few weeks, and the stone work has been carefully repaired and re-pointed and is looking great. We can’t wait to see the house shed it’s scaffold cloak.
Inside the rooms are mostly formed, 100 years of wear has been sanded back off the old timber floors ready to receive a new coat of dark natural oil, the MVHR ducting has arrived on site (straight from the factory in Sweden which happens to be where Klas did his first work experience as a young teenager), and the dramatic double height spaces are starting to reveal themselves. Only a few more weeks to go now until our largest conversion project to date will be ready to be occupied.