Blackett House - Efficiency of Timber Frame
Quintin Lake

Blackett House - Efficiency of Timber Frame

Nick Leith-Smith Architecture + Design as Architects

Timber is back in the frame


This new-build four-bedroom detached house in Berkshire explores the potential of both timber frame construction and a multi-level floor plan. Designed to replace an existing post-war bungalow, the new house sits within a designated flood zone, with living areas raised up above the site on a 1-metre brick plinth.


The resulting split between the garage at ground floor level and the rest of the entrance level enables the master bedroom above to have its own level and private roof terrace on the flat roof over the kitchen. The main volume of the house is divided into two elements, one rendered, one clad in larch. An offset in the front façade provides space for sheltered access to the front door beneath a long canopy that forms a bold horizontal element that also references the brick plinth below. Generously sized steel framed windows maximise natural light throughout, while the interior is pared down and minimal. The design process focused on achieving long sight lines throughout the house; from the entrance hall, there is a view straight through to the garden, as well up the full height of the staircase to a skylight placed at the apex of the roof.


The single storey kitchen annexe forms a third volume, also clad in vertical larch planks. The rectilinear forms are echoed in the simple structure of the rear deck, stone planters and wraparound wooden garden fence. The kitchen, dining room and L-shaped living room are open plan and run the width of the garden façade, with direct access to the rear deck through two sets of full height glass doors.


The house’s structural timber frame is referenced in the oak and glass staircase, with its tactile, hand-crafted strings and hand rails and frameless glass balustrades. Upstairs, the house contains four bedrooms, including a master suite with dressing area and bathroom. The pared-back aesthetic used in the ground floor reception rooms is combined with high ceilings and vaulted roofs to maximise the internal volume of the house and sense of light and space.


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