An unusual project in every sense! The welcome return of past client, just about secure the purchase of a plot of land with planning permission for one of three contemporary new-build homes brought the unique prospect of building from scratch – unusual for many London architects!
Situated on the border between Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire the plot lies within the Grade II listed estate of Aynhoe Park. Set out by Capability Brown 250 years before the estate also features the illustrious endeavours and historic interventions of John Soane and Humphrey Repton. Sited in over 24 acres Aynhoe Parks owner had a long-term vision to make better use of the land to the east of Aynhoe House – home to many celebrity parties and weddings. Planning permission for the three large contemporary homes was obtained by another architect in 2015, following a total of four years to obtain consent for appropriately sized and statement homes.
The design of the central house features three linear wings orientated to splay out opening up the house to the dramatic vistas over the Cherwell valley that divides Northamptonshire from Oxfordshire. Comprising of 450sq.m the house sits central to its plot with a combination of wide panoramic and narrow slot windows, set deep within chamfered reveals to invite the trees and surrounding greenery to provide a backdrop for a very large, yet private, considered and homely property.
With the restrictions of many protected and ancient trees, the complication of locating and routing incoming services and addressing drainage supplies has been a huge challenge with much input required from arboriculturalists and experienced landscape designers to avoid unnecessary felling or damage that may skew the existing parkland and ecosystem that exists.
A key early task saw the engineers work to develop a steel frame that allowed for the opening of wide panoramic permeations whilst maintaining the levels set but the planning approval and eliminating internal columns almost entirely. Externally the ground floor will be constructed in Cotswold Stone, laid as a dry-stone wall, eliminating visible mortar joints. Sitting above the larger first floor overhangs at various points, providing shelter to the most exposed or appropriate areas. The first floor will be clad in black stained vertical timber boarding, skirted and capped in black pigmented concrete bands which retain and add a horizontally to the angular facades throughout.
Featuring a huge entrance hallway with a sculpted timber staircase, five generous bedrooms with ensuite, a reception, family living, home office, spacious integrated garage the house will be the new country residence for a young ambitious family running their own property business. Given the scale of the build, an economy of fabrication, simple mix of quality but limited materials and the use of repeat design details have been developed to enable the cost to remain close to the planned budget.
The wide, private landscaping forms part of a larger vision. Currently surrounded by mature woodland the parkland will be inhabited by a unique ‘white heart’ deer herd, free to roam the parcel of land surrounding the three houses giving what is unique project an ever more eccentric twist.
We are currently compiling the detailed design and full tender package to take the project forward to construction early 2019.
Project services provided –
Discharge Planning Conditions
Manage Tender Process
Site Attendance during Construction
Design and Build Contract
SD Structures – Structural
Will Potter Building Services – M+E
ACT Surveyors – Approved Inspector
CH/PK – CDM
Under Construction. November 2020
Images. Whitaker Studio