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Howe Farm

Howe Farm

IPT Architects
Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Project Year
Private Houses
Andy Spain

Howe Farm

IPT Architects as Architects

This double 2015 RIBA Award winning project is located in a 9.5 hectare farm in Buckinghamshire, UK.

In 2013 we were approached to design a new farmhouse following the clients’ decision to have a change of lifestyle and relocate from their London apartment to a neglected farm. The farm comprises of free range livestock, a cluster of black timber outbuildings together with an existing tired mobile home where the clients lived during the project. The clients’ brief was to create a dwelling that functioned as a practical farmhouse that would be private upon approach to then open up to the extensive views of the farm.

The design of the farmhouse needed to be future proofed allowing for internal adaption for the clients’ growing family. Efficient and fast track procurement was critical as their current accommodation would be unlikely to survive another winter. Therefore the entire project programme equated to less than twelve months to design and deliver the project including gaining all necessary statutory consents without compromising the quality of the design and its execution. The main challenge was also to deliver this project within the clients’ tight budget of £275k. Planning approval was gained for an agricultural worker’s dwelling following justification that the farm could be self-sufficient. Planning constraints were mainly related to the materials needing to be in keeping with the surroundings and that it should have a low visual impact from the street. A long track leads to the farmhouse and upon approach the initial view is a subtle and unassuming black elevation punctuated with a lighter timber recess framing the solid main entrance door. Upon entering, the farmhouse then opens out with views to the farm and hills beyond through the living/kitchen space that extends the length of the dwelling together with the principle bedroom. Smaller private rooms are located facing the entrance to the farm. The area adjacent to the entrance space has been designed with the flexibility to create an additional bedroom/study.

The house is built using a Hybrid between modern methods of construction with highly efficient structurally insulated panel systems (SIPS) and traditional building methods for cladding and finishes. In response to the local farm buildings the house is clad with black stained larch fixed board on board which gradually slopes up beyond the roofline in a ‘hit and miss’ arrangement creating a balustrade for the roof to be used to view farm activities. The internal timber floor bleeds out framing the recessed sliding windows and covered terrace space. This covered space is also used as a general farm working entrance and is partly clad using the hit and miss cladding as a weather buffer within this very exposed location. In terms of sustainability, the use of modern methods of construction significantly reduces time on site and waste whilst improving the airtightness of the building. The dwelling is heated using air source heat pump together with a log burning stove.

Following the completion of the ground works, the superstructure took just 15 weeks to complete. This project was a successful response to the challenging brief, built on time and budget. This has created a quality living environment that is sympathetic to its immediate and wider context.

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