The site is set within a wooded site in the area of Munstead in the Surrey Hills, close to some of the architect Lutyen’s great Country Houses.
Our design on this site seeks to completely re-imagine the Country House – attempting to create a house that perhaps Lutyens would design if he had the technical means that lie in our hands in todays—building from the architectural legacy of the Country House and utilising modern methods of construction.
The Aviary is an object-like pavilion that floats in its sylvan site, with a completely glazed ground floor living space set below an overhanging veiled volume that is neither solid nor void, concealing bedrooms and a garden behind a diaphanous screen.
The ground floor of the house is entirely enclosed by full height glass screens, save the timber entrance door, and provides all the living spaces. These spaces are subdivided by ‘boxes’ containing cloakroom, tv room, cinema, and pantry spaces, that sit as if giant pieces of furniture, clad in coloured polished plaster or timber and are three-quarter height so do not join the soffit, reinforcing their ‘object-like’ quality. The living spaces occupy the places between the objects, while the glass enclosing walls dissolve and the real walls containing the living spaces are the trees that envelope the house.
This is demonstration that here in the 21st century, when most of the world’s population live in cities and space is at a premium, for the Country House, the connection to nature is perhaps the most important, the most valuable aspect of dwelling.
Upstairs, set behind a veil of off-white fibre reinforced concrete fins in alternating textures that shimmer in the light, lies a battery of bedrooms. These are planned around a roof garden, again bringing man and nature together, abstracted from the world outside.
The 1430M2 house is designed with an ‘off-grid’ ethos, with the aim of achieving close to zero-carbon performance.