Found deep within the Surrey hills is something very special indeed. A house that is not only off grid, but as close to being zero carbon as you are likely to get. Oh, and did we mention that it looks incredible too?
The design has been cited as being an attempt to totally reimagine the traditional country house and with its unique design, it certainly managed to change our perceptions. The Aviary, as it is known, is a seemingly floating building with a completely glazed ground floor that is found nestled underneath an overhang. The purpose of the overhang is to offer privacy as well as a dramatic platform for a rooftop landscaping project.
The ground floor is made up of a number of ‘boxes’, all of which serve a function, such as a cloakroom or TV room and with glass throughout, the intrinsic connection to nature and the ideals of owning a country house are maintained, while further supported by the upstairs layout, which was designed exclusively around a roof garden. At every turn, nature, the outdoors and a need to always be connected to a wider space is reiterated, while the house is, all the time, aiming to achieve zero-carbon performance. After all, we don't just want to touch nature, we want to be its friend.
Let's take a look around this amazing house and see if you connect with its ideals.
What a truly unusual and eye-catching design The Aviary has and when you learn of its name, it all makes sense, thanks to the delicate, almost bar-like features that encircle the top floor.
The team at John Pardey have excelled themselves, creating a house that instantly speaks of its intrinsic connection to the outside world, coupled with a desire to protect the residents inside. The privacy of the upper floor is guaranteed by the 'cage' and while the lower level is left relatively open, the eye is naturally drawn upwards, leaving living spaces free to enjoy inferred privacy.
If we move a little further back, we can take in the full extent of this incredible build and start to appreciate every nuance individually.
It's incredible to see that even in the evening, with all the lights on, privacy is still maintained. Yes, we can get an idea of what we are looking at, but no details or concrete notions can be deciphered. That's the joy of a house that is so eye-catching; it can grab your attention and yet not fulfil your need for knowledge. It's a tease that makes you come closer and ask questions, which is exactly what we are going to do!
The cage takes on such a different perspective and role when we are stood next to it that we almost feel the need to have another look from the outside, just t be sure it's the same house!
From up here, bedrooms are staunchly protected by an army of beautiful foliage and lush lawn, as well as the perfect striations of metal that keep the outside world at arms length and at your finger tips all at once. The shadows being cast by the cage bring a dimension of shape and variation that new 'box' builds often lack and we are pleased to see that the railings don't look too industrial, as we had feared they might.
From inside the house, we finally get a feel for why a connection to nature was so vital; because the view and surroundings simply demand it!
The living room space offers the perfect location for looking out into the garden in peace and tranquility and by keeping all the furniture neutral in colour, you can almost forget you are actually indoors. The large, unbroken glazing panels literally melt the division between indoor and outdoor spaces away and we are huge fans of the extensive use of wood, as a further connecting point to the outside.
We were surprised to see a vivid pink wall in this house, as everything else has been kept so natural and pared back, but we have to say; we absolutely love it! What a fun way to inject some life and style into a home that was almost entirely dictated by nature!
The pink brings a warmth that natural materials couldn't replicate and works so well with the expanses of dark timber and white furniture that it almost looks as though it has organically grown on the wall. There is nothing contrived about this house and even when something a little more dramatic is included, the property simply takes a deep breath and accepts it. Amazing!
Though looking at the front façade of the house it is clear that it is neither small nor 'usual', we love that from certain angles, it gives nothing about itself away. From this side perspective, for example, we can see that something modern has ben built, but we can make no assumptions about scale or size until going around for a front view. That's the thing about design; it should always have the ability to surprise and inspire you and this house has certainly done both for us.
For more modern home inspiration, take a look at this Ideabook: 9 Fascinating Modern Houses.