Located within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Somerset, the site was formerly a group of stone farm buildings on the northfacing slope of a rural valley. The brief called for a large contemporary country house that would take advantage of the extensive open views as well as provide a southern aspect and the resultant sunny aspect. As keen environmentalists, the client required that the home should harness every natural sustainable energy source available to the site, chiefly a wind turbine, a large array of photovoltaic panels and air source heat pump.
Although providing 1000sq/m accommodation the new building in fact occupies a more compact footprint than the previous complex of agricultural buildings. The open plan is arranged around two large courtyards on different levels in response to the steep gradient of the hill. This provides a much needed southern orientation to the main living area whilst maintaining the extensive view northwards across the valley. In plan, the building adheres to the contour line of the hill thus generating a gentle curve.
The original stone of the previous buildings was harvested for use on the new construction and the outline of the massive stone walls, embedded into the landscape, act as a podium to the more lightweight modular timber structure above. The concrete loadbearing walls were created using insulated formwork with blast furnace slag as a substitute to conventional cement. Notwithstanding the extensive glazing a high thermal performance has been achieved using heat mirror insulating glass that maintains a stable internal environment.
Viewed from outside the building appears as a cluster of individual simple stone blocks – a reference to the previous group of farm buildings. Inside, the occupant is offered a series of vistas to the landscape beyond as well as a sequence of living spaces. The previous dwelling left the client feeling disconnected from the extraordinary view, now they are able to enjoy a sense of living within the landscape.