This house has evolved from a farmer's longhouse, set on a rural hillside. It is formed from two distinct parts, capturing the spirit of the original farm structure while extending out to connect and engage with its surrounding landscape. The stone building is a sequence of small and large-scale spaces for living and sleeping. Material expression is simple and dignified, inside and out. Spaces and detail focus on the essence of the place to capture a sense of honesty and heightened experience. Knapped flint walls are reinstated around large openings that once allowed wagons and livestock to enter. The house links below ground to the kitchen and dining space that is cut into the hillside. This architectural intervention is formed from a splintered scattering of rendered walls, stone and glass, embedded into the hill. The metaphorical blade of a plough forms the main structure of the roof, constructed as two large 'aerofoils' wrapped in ribbed zinc, appearing to cut through the ground. The visible surface of these aerofoils continues internally, as an exposed underside, forming part of the ceiling of the space, and allows the form to be read three dimensionally. Large expanses and smaller fragments of glass throughout the structure allow daylight to both wash and animate the space. The main glass face of the dining space slides across and disappears into the hillside, allowing the internal space to flood out into the landscape. The longhouse sits with a sense of dignity on the hillside while the contrasting intervention is absorbed as part of the landscape, mingling with the contours of the hillside, sometimes striking, but often very subtle and inconspicuous between the trees that have also defined the site and the form of the building. (This language and relationship with the landscape is continued with a proposed Phase 2, stretching across the hillside within the trees. Fragments of wall and glass will enclose a pool and spa. The water will seep out into the landscape as a natural pool and reed bed.)
Although in appearance quite simple, the material and detail vocabulary and composition is very carefully considered. Smaller details and scale play against the larger massing, and draw the attention of the viewer. The contrast of material between stone, metal, wood and glass creates a texture and sensitivity that sets up a dialogue with the quality and texture of its natural surroundings. The ambition, appropriateness and attention to detail are continued through to the inside of the building. For us, the experience of the interior space and finish, is as relevant as the meaning and expression of the outside. The entrance to the house is through the door of the original farmhouse, located at one end of the longhouse. There is an intimate scale to these initial spaces, providing a comforting welcome. From here a main staircase allows movement into all areas of the building and acts as a transition zone, providing a pause before the impact of stepping into the larger scale of the double height living space. Slotted details within the stair wall allow the moving sunlight to animate the living room wall throughout the day, echoing the detail of the cowshed vents. All materials and detail are considered, including a bespoke oak and studded door, and patinated steel balustrade. The basalt stone floor follows through from the outside. Leading down from the main oak stair, you emerge into the middle of the dining and kitchen area and immediately find yourself in the middle of the garden. The experience of varying scales of space is played upon, and material and detail consideration continue through the house. Most of the top floor is the main bedroom and open plan en-suite bathroom, capturing the qualities of the volume of the original barn and its ‘longhouse’ proportion. The bathing and wet room area are again clad in basalt. A polished aluminium bath tub sits in the middle of the space, while the toilet has the best view in the house, facing a large slot formed in the end elevation, providing a view across the valley beyond. A second stair is located at the far end of the building. The space is kept open, from ground to roof, through 3 storeys, again identifying with the original volume. A perforated and folded, patinated steel stair and balustrade winds its way up through the space, connecting half way with a gallery. The steel stair structure, again a reflection of the agricultural history of the site, faces out onto one of the 3 metre high glazed openings, and a farm beyond.