The clients had moved into a rather ordinary brick and tile 1970’s house on the banks of the river Loddon, near Wargrave.
We based our concept on three elements – containing living, guest and bedrooms – that adopt a pinwheel form. The whole ensemble is raised up on columns to deal with the fact that the river is subject to seasonal flooding to a depth of just over one metre. The house occupies roughly the same position as the existing, and is set parallel to the river but as the plot twists towards the lane, arrival is angled around an entrance court.
A dark zinc-clad wing is pushed forward receive a staircase that slices up into an open hood that is cedar-lined, with a glazed room to the side containing guest suite that doubles up as a gym. The stair arrives onto a an entrance balcony, with glazed door leading into a central hall space – this is the day room, dedicated to outdoor living and leads out onto a large deck beneath a zinc canopy. Following the zig zag of the pinwheel, a second staircase then leads down to a garden deck, with boardwalk that arrives at a landing stage on the river’s edge. To one side of the central element is an open living wing, resting on a cantilevered steel table that frames parking space. This is a cedar-clad element with a full height glazed wall and balcony to the river façade and a zinc-clad bay onto the north, garden façade. The space is divided into kitchen/ dining areas with a timber storage unit to the far end concealing study. To the other side is a cubic bedroom block stood on spindly columns which is again, cedar-clad and contains bathrooms and two bedrooms to the lower level and a top-floor master bedroom eerie.
The house is steel framed with timber stud infill; cedar and zinc-clad with aluminium-framed windows (frameless glazing to gym area) and single-ply roofing. The house is run by a computerised building management system that controls not just heating demands, but also lighting, solar control and audio-visual installations. The walls, floors and roofs are highly insulated using sheep’s wool insulation to create a highly efficient home.
The house continues our interest in natural materials that weather well, and an architecture that seeks out an embrace and celebrate nature.