Summer Hill

The client brought in the team to take a fresh look at a scheme for a woodland site at Summerhill, Kingscote, East Grinstead. The planning authority declined the previous scheme for its far greater prominence than the existing dwelling and resulting 'visual impact' on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The challenge was to design the client a large family home but, as far as possible, replicate the current setting of a simple rural barn structure within a woodland clearing.

To achieve the area requirements of a four-bedroom house whilst respecting the AONB of the site, the design used the natural fall of the ground to create an upsidedown house with the living space on top and the sleep areas set into the hillside below. The resulting scheme sits comfortably in its surroundings and has shown a sensitive design that works within the site constraints.

The rectangular plan divides into two main areas, by the entrance and central stair, that sits two-thirds along the building's length. The main living, dining and kitchen space sit to the west, forming part of an open plan arrangement, with an external terrace to the south. To the east are the ancillary space and a study that looks out to the quieter aspect of the woodland views. The plan is L-shaped at the lower ground levels, with the main wing of bedrooms following the living space above.

The proposed palette of materials enables the house to blend into its countryside setting and reflect the local vernacular. A simple black painted timber weatherboard wraps over the upper storey pitched roof barn, forming walls and roof cladding. The more solid and grounded lower level uses the local brick stock, West Hoathly, to create the plinth on which the 'barn' above sits.

The design is well insulated, airtight and triple glazed; the building will also use a combination of earth cooling, PVs & Battery cells, solar shading, MVHR and ground source heat pumps to provide an energy-efficient building.