A year on from David Kohn’s victory in the 2009 Young Architect of the Year Award, the practice has won the One-Off House Architect category in Building Design’s prestigious Architect of the Year Awards 2010.
Stable Acre is the practice’s second commission from London-based gallerist Stuart Shave following completion of Modern Art in Fitzrovia in 2008.
Having grown up in Norfolk the client wanted to commission a weekend and holiday retreat to relax alone and in the company of friends. The site of the house is a former paddock on the edge of a working farm near the village of Haveringland, 8 miles north-west of Norwich. The land is flat with long views and large skies, sparsely populated with farms and round-tower churches.
The scheme employs a simple and direct design in keeping with the local agricultural architecture. Rather than a single house, the project is conceived as an agglomeration of houses, from the scale of a niche to that of the landscape. The house is entered through two small brick pavilions built within the ruins of a 19th century stable block. Precast concrete niches at each door evoke the memories of household Gods and mark the beginning of a sequence of houses that grow in scale as one moves through the interior. The largest space, the living room offers wide views back across the garden, past an open hearth, to the newly planted apple orchard and nut grove. The plan of the house has been echoed in the landscape to create rooms of wild grasses, flowers and trees each offering different degrees of remove from the house, to be enjoyed at different times of the day and year.
The contemporary construction and materials complete an, albeit fictional, ruin. The stereotomic elements – brick perimeter, concrete floor, brick pavilions –are overclad by lightweight tectonic elements – the profiled metal roof, crittall glazing and oak cladding. Consequently the seemingly familiar image of an agricultural barn gives way to a more complex proposition concerned with growth of the house over time.
A key feature of the house is its relationship to the landscape. A wide bay window extends across the living room providing long views across fields and forests. A large steel beam has been concealed in the eaves above the bay window that allows the glazing and the view beyond to be uninterrupted by structure.