A busy morning today which started with a site visit to discuss a potential new project for an eco retrofit to a house in Bradford on Avon following which we dropped in to check on building progress for two other local projects – our conversion and extension project to an existing 50s house where the steel cantilever is ready to meet the exposed larch roof structure and our hidden courtyard project where the promise of warm summer days spent on the new roof terrace is within reach.
Design is an iterative process where we listen intensely to our clients and try to respond with purpose to their requirements – always seeking to be ambitious, providing a high quality service and giving our clients more than they expect.
We always seek to create amazing spaces that will enrich the lives of our clients providing comfort, joy and beauty in all that we do. Great architecture provides spaces where we’re effortlessly at peace, making time spent with those we love more meaningful.
To achieve this we need space and time to reflect and getting there is a balancing act, at times personal. Last weekend we sought refuge along the windswept shores of southern Sweden, resting and enjoying the breathing space that only family time can provide.
In order to be our best we need to take time away from the desk, to practice what we preach in order to re-balance ourselves and returning with renewed energy.
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.