Ben Cunliffe Architects were approached to create a contemporary, spacious and sustainable home for a young family. The house needed to include generous, open plan living space well suited to entertaining; private, comfortable bedrooms and bathrooms for the family; a garage and a study. The sloping nature of the site added complexity to the design process, but presented opportunities to connect the house to the garden to the rear.
The design of the house was conceived around three distinct volumes. The central core of the building was to be an uninterrupted circulation space, allowing access to all areas and connecting the public, front face of the building to the private garden area behind. The site determined that the building be orientated approximately along an east – west axis, with the garden behind benefitting from the afternoon sun. The house connects to the garden from both levels. A first-floor balcony leads one down to the raised garden while the rear terrace below has steps up to the lawn.
The second distinct volume provides the majority of the public and utility space for the house. On the ground floor, the garage provides parking for cars and storage for bicycles and other equipment. The utility room houses the plant and washing facilities and a separate space for coats keeps the core circulation spaces clear. A further two guest bedrooms complete the ground floor.
Above, the main living space blends kitchen, dining and lounge along the full depth of the house. This is an airy, light filled room with pitched ceiling and exposed steel work. Roof lights make the most of the southerly aspect of the roof. The design of this area nods to the vernacular with its pitched roof planes and overhanging eaves but adds a modern mix of materials and large windows in the gable ends.
The final volume is unashamedly modern with its flat roof and slightly top heavy, rectilinear form overhanging to one side. This space contains the private accommodation: the study, master suite, two further bedrooms with en-suites and a snug.
The pallet of materials for the house is intentionally modern while remaining sympathetic to the surrounding area. White, silicone render is in contrast to dark aluminium windows, guttering and trims. Cedar cladding softens the overall effect, with warm tones and visible grain. The standing seam zinc roof is more in keeping with the overall aesthetic.
The sustainability and environmental performance of the house was a crucial aspect of the design. SIP panels were used for the construction for their high insulation value, speed and longevity. An MVHR unit is incorporated, adding to the thermal performance of the building and an air source heat pump provides hot water.
The design allows for easy living for the whole family and entertaining, on a large scale and for more intimate gatherings. The attractive, well balanced form and modern aesthetic sits well on the site with expansive views to the Malvern Hills beyond and will be a much-loved home for many years to come.