Many homes around the UK deserve recognition, they are inspiring, intuitive, and some are so extraordinary that we could all learn a thing or two just by appreciating their wander. If you are a developer, architect, interior designer or are merely looking for some inspiration for your dream home or new project property build. Here’s a quick guide to the 4 most inspiring homes from around the UK in 2020.
1.Pocket House – London
This project turns an underused garage site into a family home. This effectively addresses a variety of limitations, including the limitation of height and the need to protect the privacy of neighbours. That has been accomplished by placing a portion of the house below the ground and by making efficient use of space, including substantial built-in storage elements that are architectural features in themselves, adding to the character of the building.
The project has achieved a high degree of quality and outstanding value for money, which is no mean feat. A tasteful material palette of brick, wood and concrete is beautifully finished and displayed throughout the house, providing a soothing sense of relief from the outside world.
The standard of the carpentry is excellent, and the architect has shown a thorough control over costs by using materials to their full potential – for example, by designing all secondary steelworks for the wooden stairs. The polished details create an elegant look. The architect has carefully considered every part of the design.
The house is relatively modest in area, but carefully designed views, excellent circulation and efficient use of natural light make it appear much more substantial. The basement level does not feel subterranean due to the elegant layout of the bedrooms around a generous light source. These spaces are further amplified by minimal walls and the clever use of enclosed doors that, when opened, create a large open-plan area.
2.Nithurst Farm – Sussex
Poetically set in a secluded valley, the house occupies the site of a former modest farmhouse. The house involves both a series of pre-existing, low-key buildings-remains of a typical farmyard and a ribbon lawn between old hedges forming a dominant east/west axis. From a point, its mysterious design evokes memories of Italy’s defensive farm buildings.
As you get closer to the structure, you become aware of a variety of level storeys that may or may not be double-height. Conventional small-scale materials that cover larger openings and in a shape that was initially plain which exposed a more complex geometry.
Conventional bricks form the exterior skin of the building, laid out in wide-joined lime mortar. The big joints enhance the sense of the building’s mass and the impression that you are somehow looking at a reworked historical ruin. The openings in this skin are usually created by flat and angled arches, but then visually ‘smudged’ by the introduction of darker bricks around the openings.
The house is entered through a discreet, modest boot room, opening directly from the farmyard. This compact, compressed space overstates the scale of what lies beyond it. From here, you can go straight into the soul of the room, and the design of the building starts to show itself.
This space, the main family living room, is based on a traditional grand hall with abstract versions of the musicians’ gallery, the solar and the rude screen. It is here that one knows, too, that inside a typical, modestly-dressed farmhouse, there is a large, concrete villa bursting out.
The Black House – Kent
The architects’ decision to place this black wooded house in a rocky dip near the edge of the water has allowed it to interact less directly with the local road, to have a reduced profile in the landscape and to establish a stronger link with the sea.
The fully glazed end wall of the main living space frames a stunning view across the water to the rugged hills on the other side of the inlet, while the filtered light creates an ever-changing pattern through the white interior.
There is compelling honesty in the systematic use of pure rectangular shapes, the strictly restricted palette of colours and materials, and the evident simplicity of minimalist details in which, enhanced by the inclusion of the art and objects of the owners, has succeeded in creating a quiet, welcoming and exceptional home.
Rural Retreat – Sartfell
Moulded to the west facing the slope of Sartfell on the Isle of Man, this retreat maximises spectacular views of the Irish Sea. Long horizontal slot windows and thick concrete bunker walls give the interior a spacious and welcoming look. A compelling architectural vision has built an extraordinary place through a close response to a specific context.
The building offers an excellent thermal climate with a pleasant internal atmosphere. It is accomplished by a large inner cast concrete frame and exposed polished floors framed by a super-insulated fabric covered in local stone. A lake heat pump provides heating with very low operating energy consumption. The flat roofs are also super-insulated with a carbon-neutral turf finish that complements the overall thermal efficiency and longevity of the roof as well as allowing the building to blend into the hill when viewed from the road above.
Large double-glazed horizontal strip windows on the south-central elevation, from which extensive views can be seen, are also crucial for providing an excellent degree of natural light to the interior of the first open plan living room. The glazing is placed deep within the walls with the overhang above, and the depth exposes the solar shade throughout the summer, which together with the large fabric minimises the chance of summer overheating.
The building will ultimately be independent of the utilities – borehole for drinking water supply and bio-digester wastewater treatment are already installed. The wind turbine will eventually meet much, if not all, of the electrical energy needs.
Through an energy perspective, the use of in-situ concrete for the leading wall and floor components can be justified as part of the overall properties energy management strategy. The roofs of turf and the natural stone cladding are also part of healthy, sustainable materiality which also includes the responsive use of traditional wood for some upper suspended floors, partitioning and internal retaining walls. The retreat is part of what is to become an ecological centre open to locals where school children can come and explore the unique flora and fauna of Manx—built by local contractor, Organic Construction Solutions, whose team clearly enjoyed the opportunity to take on the more complicated task posed by this unique house.
We hope you could take some inspiration or some encouragement from seeing what fantastic properties other have created out of the most unimaginative environments.