This innovative state of the art family home is designed to achieve Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes, processing its own power, energy, waste and water. The dwelling is partially earth sheltered minimising its impact on the rural setting whilst respecting the topographical and historical characteristics of the local area.
The part-underground structure enables the overall height of the dwelling to sit well below the ridge lines of the neighbouring two and three storey dwellings, whilst benefiting from the excellent insulating and airtight properties of the surrounding ground. Material generated from the excavation of the lower level of accommodation will be compressed into air dried earth blocks to form internal and external walls and to sculpt the areas adjacent to the dwelling.
The design concept and subsequent proposed layout have an organic and free flowing form relating to the natural surroundings of the site. This approach assists in the integration of the dwelling with the existing site and context rather than imposing itself on the landscape. The orientation of the site layout and the proposed built form addresses the point of access whilst embracing the private gardens and views to the south west towards the existing well.
The combination of the dwelling’s partial subterranean arrangement, the orientation of the proposed site layout and the surrounding landscaping provides an acoustic and visual buffer between the site, the adjacent neighbouring properties and the adjacent Wildlife & Heritage Site, allowing the majority of development to be screened from the public realm. The hollowing of the ground to create the house and garden represents, symbolically, the ground from which the adjacent Scheduled Ancient Monument was hewn.
The majority of the dwelling’s external envelope relating to the main entrance area will be based on green wall / roof technology, largely concealing the dwelling. The main entrance is located on the upper level relating to the point of arrival from the courtyard and includes glazed doors and screens contrasting the grassed earth construction of the external walls. This relationship provides a welcoming entrance, encouraging a good level of natural daylight into the upper floor entrance / gallery area and an element of surveillance over the entrance courtyard.
Once in the dwelling, the floor layouts focus on a central area which provides access between both floors. The spine wall and feature staircase take the visitor from the upper level down to the lower landing providing glimpses of the gardens and the living accommodation. The kitchen and main family areas are located in the heart of the house, with the formal dining space in the double height space, encouraging interaction between the lower and the upper levels. The quiet spaces are located at the east end of the lower level providing a degree of separation from the main circulation and family areas. The quiet spaces include a snug / library and music area which have access to the gardens and are flexible in their arrangement. The five / six bedrooms on the upper floor have direct access on to a series of terraces which in turn lead to larger formal terraces and then into the landscaped gardens.
The overall arrangement creates a contemporary approach to family accommodation whilst creating a strong relationship between the site and the proposed dwelling.