This new build house is nestled within a unique wooded site on the outskirts of a rural village in north Oxfordshire.
Our clients’ brief was to establish a ‘home for life’ on their idyllic plot that would cater for their needs as they approach retirement and beyond, with ample accommodation for their family and friends to visit.
The Long House has been designed as a modern interpretation of the north Oxfordshire vernacular. It explores the forms of local rural buildings and brings together a pallet of traditional materials in carefully controlled and structurally expressive detailing.
An existing clearing near to the centre of the densely wooded site made an obvious location for the new house. Since the site slopes from south to north, the house is set over a metre into the ground at its deepest point.
An ‘upside down’ arrangement was adopted to give the primary living accommodation and master bedroom suite at first floor a slightly elevated position over the surrounding landscape, with views through the woodland to the east, cricket fields to the south and agricultural paddocks to the west. The guest bedrooms, utility room and greenhouse/gym are spread across the partially sunken ground floor, offering privacy but maintaining direct access to a sunken patio. The landscaping to the south of the house has been terraced to allow plenty of natural light in to these spaces as well as maintaining views out to the garden.
The plan form follows a simple L-shaped pattern with the principle three-storey element running north/south and a secondary two-storey wing running perpendicular.
The predominant materials within the surrounding villages are stone walling and thatched roofing. The Long House draws on this with a modern interpretation of the thatched roof in zinc. The principle roof is shaped at eaves and ridge to echo traditional thatching techniques.
The principle entrance is defined by a steel stepped approach up to first floor level and is flanked on one side by a traditional coursed and inclined drystone wall. The stepped approach in to a fully glazed entrance means that views through the house to the surrounding landscape are immediately presented.
The open plan kitchen, dining and sitting room spaces at first floor level feature a double-height vaulted ceiling with remote-controlled rooflights, maximising the amount of natural light. These spaces open out on to an elevated terrace to the south, which then steps down to a sunken external seating area. The landscape design seeks to contrast the hard and soft edges and allow the domesticity of planting close to the building to bleed out in to the wilder context of the woodland site.
Bespoke Oak joinery has been used throughout the house to link the interior spaces with the woodland setting outside, including a feature Oak and metal staircase in the centre of the home, with vertical Oak ‘fins’ along one side, reinforcing the verticality of the mature trees surrounding the house. Laminated plywood joinery was designed for the library/snug room, including full-height bookcases, bench seat and drinks cabinet. As part of the complete design service on this project, Hayward Smart Architects produced the large-scale details for the joiners to work from.
Key principles of the Passivhaus standard have been incorporated on the Long House, including a super insulated and airtight building envelope, triple-glazed windows & doors and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. An external air source heat pump provides hot water to showers, baths and taps but also feeds a network of underfloor heating pipes on all floors.
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