Stormy Castle is a one-of-a-kind, award-winning home set amongst the lush, remote meadows of Gower, Wales. The family home is a masterpiece of Loyn & Co Architects, and is a shining success in terms of aesthetics, sustainability, functionality, respectfulness to its surrounds, and meeting the desires of the new owners. Its design earned it the RIBA Manser Medal 2014; an award given out by the Royal Institute of British Architects for Britain's best new home. Given its location in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, demolishing the existing building to replace it with a home as daring as this wasn't going to be an easy task. Designed to adapt with the client's changing needs, and to age gracefully in its rural context, the home is a gem set amongst its remote surrounds, and as you will soon see, is more than deserving of its award-winning status.
Building in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty always involves a more delicate approach to the design and build process, as the new building must respect and even enhance the landscape's character. For this reason, concrete and Corten steel were chosen to create a contemporary interpretation of the historic, local agricultural buildings, due to their longevity and colour tones which blend in perfectly with the surrounding bracken and general landscape.
The home was conceived as three stepped 'wings' set into the hillside, which recognise and incorporate the slope of the site. Part of each wing has been cut and sunk into the side of the hill, which provide a number of understated benefits to the design. Not only does it reduce the visual impact of the home, but it also ensures privacy and insulation.
Stormy Castle has been given a Code for Sustainable homes level 5; a government rating up to 6 of energy efficiency and output. To achieve this rating is no easy task, and much planning and consideration must be undertaken. Design elements including, but not limited to, systems such as photovoltaic solar panels, solar thermal panels, a ground source heat pump, rainwater harvesting, wood burning stoves, heat recovery systems, and a low energy LED lighting scheme, all contributed to this high sustainability rating.
Whilst the exterior of the home is highly considerate of the natural landscape both aesthetically and environmentally, it is equally as impressive on the inside. Any rural home should embrace the luxury of uninterrupted views of expansive greenery, which the designers have embraced to the fullest extent. Whilst the simple, subdued colour scheme of neutral tones has a visual impact all of its own, it also allows the beautiful natural surrounds to always take centre stage.
The dominance of concrete throughout is due to its suitability for a home that is partially buried into the ground. It also helped to meet the client's brief of creating a low maintenance and long-lasting home, whilst also providing a raw and honest aesthetic.
To see more homes using concrete to positive effect, check out these homes of exposed concrete.