Hertfordshire is a small county located in southern England and is known for its countless architectural landmarks and stunning countryside. The home we are privileged to tour through today is located within an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty'.
The original dwelling was a tired old bungalow, which did not reflect the desires and wishes of the two owners, Celia and Diana. They had looked at over 100 properties but well and truly fell in love with the picturesque landscape of Hertfordshire. Their dream home for retirement was to be strikingly modern and to have as little impact on the surrounding nature and environment as possible.
Together with Facit Homes, they were fortunate to be praised by the local planning authorities, winning over 10 out of 13 committee members. Though the design is different to the traditional vernacular of the area, the choice of material finishes and colour palette help to blend the home beautifully into its rural setting. Building from scratch allowed the architects to critically analyse the layout and design of the new home, making best use of the orientation and available land.
Let's explore the home in more detail…
More often than not, getting through council for even the most minor adjustments to a home can be a headache. Luckily for Celia and Diana, the planning officers were enthusiastic about the new design, supporting them in their quest to build a home from scratch that is good quality, contemporary and, most importantly, environmentally-friendly.
A sophisticated heating system is housed inside, which has an output of only 4 kW. In layman terms, this number reflects the use of a single radiator. Given that the house is 200m², this is an extraordinary feat indeed! A heat recovery system has been employed, drawing in fresh air and expelling the used, stale air without sacrificing an inch of the internal warmth.
From this angle, we see the luscious and well-kept grounds to the rear of the building. Diana is a keen gardener, and with that, set herself the task of restoring the existing garden.
She plans to create a Japanese style garden, which would definitely fit in with the geometry and angles evidenced in the built architectural form.
For those who are interested in seeing how the spaces and form translate into 2D, you can gain a wonderful insight into the property by viewing it from above.
The shape of the building is unique and, although compartmentalised to some degree, the connection and relationship between each room is evident. The floor plan even displays the path of the sun, showing us that every room is touched by its rays.
Facit Homes pride themselves on providing airtight homes to their clients. It's a known fact that we lose much of our internal heat gains through glazing and inadequately sealed windows and doors.
Therefore, the architects have taken the design of this home one step further by implementing a super insulated front door. The owners can rest assured that the energy spent keeping the inside cool in summer and warm in winter will not be in vain.
What a wonderfully functional and beautiful kitchen, which embodies the most practical and aesthetically pleasing kitchen layouts. With the cupboards running alongside the rear wall, and the island to the front, the space is divided and cleverly laid out.
It also creates an open plan kitchen that is conducive to interactivity and entertainment, as the occupants can continue to converse with guests even when there is something on the stove. The raw, minimalist finishes are a marvel in their own right, reflecting the neutral colour palette evidenced on the exterior façade.
From this angle, we are facing from the kitchen outwards into the dining area. The open plan and spacious nature of the interconnected rooms feel airy and expansive, creating wonderful dialogue between the two areas. After all, what makes a better couple than kitchen and dining?
Gone are the days when it's necessary to have a separate informal and formal dining area. The same emotions elicited by a freshly cooked meal and sounds of simmering pots cannot be felt from a different room so it makes sense in modern home design to have these rooms together.
Moving on from the kitchen and dining area, we find ourselves in a light-bathed and cosy living room. Maintaining the same neutral feel, a slightly rustic touch has been employed through the wood-burning heating system and classic, homely interior decorations.
This glorious living area opens out onto a wooden deck, which is an absolutely idyllic setting for enjoying a cup of tea in the morning sun, a book in the afternoon or a glass of wine under the stars. Even from within the confines of their four walls, the occupants can feel at one with the outdoors simply by opening the blinds and allowing nature to flow inside.
It is essential to look closely at one of the pivotal design and environmental factors of this home. The solar shades, which act not only as a stunning extrusion from the main envelope of the home, but also help direct the sunlight into the home during different months.
Traditionally, we would install eaves for this purpose. Instead, the large south facing elements of glazing have been gifted with these beautiful untreated wooden shades, which are an interesting design aspect that make this house both unique and environmentally-friendly.
To see another eco-friendly UK home, check out: A Cosy Modern Home in the Woods.