Sartfell Restorative Rural Retreat

Sartfell Restorative Rural Retreat

Foster Lomas
Upper Sartfell, Kirk Michael, Isle of Man, IM6 1BE
Project Year
Private Houses
Edmund Sumner
Product Spec Sheet

FireplaceLloyds British
Windows and doorsLUMI
Specialist glazingMaxlight
Polished concrete floorSteyson Granolithic Contractors
Suppliers - Staircase & library metalworkWest Country Blacksmiths

Product Spec Sheet
Windows and doors
Specialist glazing
Polished concrete floor
Suppliers - Staircase & library metalwork

Sartfell Restorative Rural Retreat

Foster Lomas as Architect and Landscape

Sartfell Restorative Rural Retreat shortlisted for ‘House of the Year’ category of Architects’ Journal Architecture Awards 2018

‘Sartfell Retreat is one of those rare projects which appears to emerge out of the earth, providing a sense of permanence and protection for the clients to live with, and amongst the elements of the weather, wildlife and local ecology’ – Will Foster, Co-founder of Foster Lomas


The practice Foster Lomas has completed a unique house set in a 7-acre site on Sartfell Mountain, Isle of Man. The retreat is the result of a unique collaboration between the clients - a retired scientist and a retired teacher with a broad range of specialisms and interests in insect neurology, zoology and biological science, the architect Foster Lomas and the local charity Manx Wildlife Trust. The clients’ commitment to the project was borne out of their deep respect for the island’s new status as a UNESCO world biosphere region. The project forms part of a master plan whose vision will see the addition of a Visitors’ Centre, serving as an important educational platform about biodiversity, recently granted planning permission.


The design of the retreat is constructed using drystone walls, meticulously executed by local craftsmen. The walls weave through the site and are embedded with a three quarter open bed to allow local ecology to inhabit the voids. This creates a synergy with the land, reinforced by the use of stone harvested from the site.


The careful attention to the characteristics of the existing nature can be seen in all aspects of the design. A weather station was installed on the site a year prior to construction to gather important data, ultimately driving the form of the building. Carbon-capturing hay base and native wildflower planting create the house’s biodiverse green roofs, complementing the drystone walls and further blending the dwelling with its environment.


The new construction arranges the bedrooms on the lower ground level accommodation, where deep reveals puncture the walls demonstrating the mass of the 620 mm walls. On the upper ground level, the living floor engages with the expansive views across the landscape and as far as the coast, with a ribbon window reminiscent of a scaled up bird hide. The windows are set back and framed with Corten steel plate, preventing solar gain and reducing reflections. All the spaces are ordered around a staircase core forming a triangular plan which cunningly houses the library.


Running throughout the three levels, the ‘Knowledge Centre’, as the library has come to be known, is at the heart of the scheme. It signifies the long-term vision that the clients have for the place and for future generations of scientists, educators and wildlife enthusiasts. The drama of the staircase is topped with a clerestory which frames the study whilst capturing the shifting light of the island throwing shafts of luminescence into the core and animating the concrete interior. The poetic orientation of the staircase aligns the ascendance with views up to the mountain, whilst the descent directs views down into the valley. The original Manx cottage, a local landmark named ‘Cloud 9,’ next to the new construction, was taken back to its original form and is fully disabled compliant.


The clients are planning the second stage of development to construct a Visitors' Centre on site to ensure the care of eco-systems vulnerable to climate change. Acid bogs on site, for example, home to rare orchid species, have been susceptible to ploughing which releases carbon monoxide. The Visitors’ Centre, also designed by Foster Lomas, was granted planning permission and is due to go on site in 2019. Sartfell Retreat has been shortlisted for ‘House of the Year’ category in this year’s Architects’ Journal Architecture Awards. Winners will be announced in December 2018.


Material Used :

1. West Country Blacksmiths and John Hesp (staircase & library metalwork)
2. Organic Roofs (biodiverse roof)
3. Berg Bespoke (kitchen)
4. Steyson Granolithic Contractors Ltd (polished concrete floor)
5. Maxlight (specialist glazing)
6. Lumi (windows and doors)
7. Lloyds Heat Design (fireplace)

Project Credits
Architect and Landscape
Structural engineers
Cost consultant
Biodiverse roof
MEP engineer, Environmental consultant
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