The site is a suburban plot replacing a 1950s house, one street back from Friars Cliff beach, near Christchurch. The client’s design brief was for a retirement house that could be comfortably occupied at ground level, but can then expand when family arrive to stay by the use of first floor bedrooms.
We began with the idea of creating a ‘courtyard’ plan that allowed an open plan living space to address the extensive garden to its north while also gaining sun from the south. A single storey building facing the street wraps a contained courtyard. Front and rear are then connected by a service wing to the eastern side. This arrangement opens up the house to nature and creates a calm central court to catch the sun.
The lower volume is clad in an insulated external acrylic render system to pick up on the seaside vocabulary of nearby ‘white’ buildings, while the upper volume is clad in western red cedar boarding. The overall impression is intended to be that of a low white base with a lighter, floating timber ‘box’ set back from the road. The lower roof is sedum covered to add to the ecology of the site and provide a visual amenity as seen from upstairs rooms.
The upper volume overhangs the southern courtyard to provide solar shading to living spaces and also cantilevers to the west, to create a dynamic element released from simple support.
Large glazed areas onto south facing bedrooms are held within a wrapping timber clad ‘sleeve’ onto the garden elevation, while the upper floor has a more reticent facade with low glazing onto a corridor serving bedrooms while one bedroom to the east, discretely faces the garden. A large brick chimney anchors the building to the site.
The courtyard provides a ‘zen-like’ place of clam, with only granite sett paving and a single tree. The living room can open up into this space to extend into an outdoor room.
The house will employ concealed roof-mounted photovoltaic panels that will generate power to offset demands. The building fabric will be insulated to achieve very high ‘U’ values and all glazing will be argon-filled triple glazed units in thermally broken frames.
‘I know we have told you several times how much we love our house but thought we should formally thank you… for designing and delivering us such a super home. It exceeds our expectations and we still can’t quite believe its ours.’
Mike + Diane Smith