Swinhay House, set within a 230-acre farmland estate, was designed by David Austin, in close collaboration with the owner, to replace an old farm house. It gained planning consent in 2001 under the PPG7 Country House policy, a precursor of the current NPPF55 policy, which allowed for the creation of houses of exceptional and outstanding architectural and landscape quality—a modern take on the traditional country house. The overall scheme includes a large Estate Manager's house and farm buildings. The planning permission includes an indoor riding arena, a farmhouse and a plant nursery. The house is a space dedicated to family gatherings and, alongside bedrooms and apartments, its accommodation includes a large kitchen and dining area overlooking an indoor winter garden, a 25m indoor swimming pool, a squash court, a cinema room, a bowling alley and a large underground car park.
Underlying the design for this house was our client’s wish to make the most of its setting, with a room dedicated to capturing the panoramic views from the Tindale Monument on the Cotswold escarpment above it to the undulating landscape of the Severn Vale below.
The house is earth sheltered with dramatic, sweeping, organic forms; the walls and roof emerge from the landscape and rise up to support the central look-out tower. The building is extremely energy efficient and includes many innovative technologies alongside fabric-first investments in insulation and solar control. Its large lakes act as a heat store and supply seasonal heating and cooling. Following shell and core development by Gloucester based Roberts Limbrick Architects, we returned to work closely with the owner and project manager on the interior and landscape design, including the indoor and outdoor garden. Each garden is individually themed and, sunken into the ground and linked by tunnel or bridge, allowing uninterrupted views from the main house across the landscape.
Swinhay plays host to many charitable events and outdoor theatre productions, and has featured on the BBCs Sherlock series. It remains a unique example of a modern country house and it is doubtful there will be others of this style, scale and ambition. We appreciate the legacy of this building for our practice and it always ignites intrigue and debate whenever it is mentioned.