Set within the conservation area of Burley, in the heart of the New Forest National Park, this private house aims to achieve a contemporary outlook that sits comfortably within its sensitive context.
The concept is based on the idea of creating an architecture that respects the idea of vernacular buildings by avoiding a single form in favour of an assemblage of smaller elements, akin to the typology of farm buildings. The house therefore divides into three functions; guest/study; living; and sleeping. These are used to create three interlocking forms that are clad in cedar above a white wall. A central chimney anchors the composition and rises above a black zinc roof that echoes traditional slate.
The programme for the house was divided into three functions – study/ guest accommodation; living; sleeping – interlocked around a central entrance hall. Overall, the plan defines an ‘L’ shape with its back to the north and east and opens up to the cedar clad, south and west views.
At ground floor, white painted rendered walls wrap each of the three elements and each opens up to a different horizon – two are expressed with mono-pitch roofs, whilst the third is seen as a timber box with a pitched roof and glazed gable ends. A large central chimney anchors the composition and reinforces the nature of hearth and home.
The brief laid emphasis on the kitchen and dining space as central to family life, so we made this dramatic by using a double height space (once a traditional device in the country house). This space connects to one side to the stone floored, top-lit entrance hall (formal dining and piano) and to the other, to a sitting room. This ‘snug’ room is enclosed on two sides by external walls and is flanked by full-height sliding glazing which opens onto a garden court on one side, and faces a chimney with open log burning fireplace. The fireplace rises up through the double height space and supports a cantilevered staircase that serves a small balcony (a modest library and reading bench) and the master bedroom that has commanding views across the small valley and stream to the rear of the house through a large fixed glass wall. Children’s bedrooms use the mono-pitch roof form to allow the rising sun in through a slit window at high level above a storage area that straddles the passageway and wardrobes. Large fixed window panels have cedar boarded stable-door panels to one side in each room.
The family bathroom at the end of the house doubles up as a laundry room where a low window allows views of the animals in the fields beyond whilst enjoying a warm bath.
The Duckett House featured in Alain de Botton’s 2006 book ‘The Architecture of Happiness’ as a reminder of the truth in Stendhal’s aphorism ‘beauty is the promise of happiness’ .