This competition provided a rare and challenging opportunity: to design an exceptional, significant and contemporary single-family house within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The site for the house – currently occupied by a 1960s house and garage – is exemplary, if encumbered by a complex planning history. Located high on a ridge overlooking the Weald of Kent, the views are spectacular. Furthermore the gardens – running to some three acres – are picturesque and framed by specimen trees and planting.
For this £1m, circa 4,000 square foot house, the client sought an architecture borne out of a strong affinity of place, rooted in its setting and showing a strong contextual approach and sensibility, from how the building would sit in the site, to the arrangement of internal and external spaces, through to the choice of materials.
The design challenge that MRC presented to four invited teams was to: guide the client through the briefing, design and delivery of this project; convince the client that their team was capable of meeting the planning challenges; translate the client’s requirements into the spatial arrangement of their proposal; and interpret the inherent qualities of the site within their design concept.
The client, who wishes to remain anonymous, said:
‘Ultimately, my wife and I reached the conclusion that this was a house of its site: we wanted it to nestle within the landscape, capturing the spectacular, luminous views and tracking the sun over days and seasons.’
David Hamilton, Director of Projects at MRC, said:
‘A house is a very special commission: it’s personal, it’s intimate, the owner has to live long-term with the outcome. It takes a degree of courage to open this to a competition – but our client was very clear-sighted, knew the site to be extraordinary and felt that he and his wife wanted to leave something that would outlive them.’