Birchwood is a tired 1970’s house located on a private road in the beautiful Ashridge Estate, within the Chilterns AONB. The current house is situated on a large verdant plot, surrounded by mature trees and secluded from its neighbours. In an area where it is common to demolish and replace existing houses, our project looked to retain, recycle and refurbish as a retrofit first approach. We have looked to use local craftsman and historic skills to respond with a contemporary yet contextual design.
The intention is to transform the existing house to create a contemporary home for a new family, using local materials to create a meaningful connection to the area, from what is currently an uninspiring building of standard materials, with no connection to place.
The proposal minimises the amount of new building fabric, retaining and re-profiling windows to create a more coherent and contextual appearance. Different proportions of openings, roof profiles and additions are consolidated to create a building that reads as a whole, while improving the interior conditions of the house. Re-planning the internal arrangement brings natural light into the rooms and innovate use of solar shading and solar gain helps in reduce overheating demands. A lovely connection to the garden is introduced from the main living spaces allowing a connectivity with nature and a truer understanding of the seasons.
The house is entirely re-clad in low-carbon, local materials. In reference to the strong architectural tradition evident in the Chiltern Hills. The walls are faced in locally made tiles, wrapping up to clad the roof to create a simplified single form. New and existing building fabric is dressed on the ground floor with flint gabions, a contemporary and cost-effective way of refreshing the building with reference to traditional building methods of the area.