Private Award Winner 2007
Building Owner: Niall Hobhouse
Architect: Charlotte Skene Catling
Builder/Main Contractor: Longpre Furniture
Structural Engineers: Anthony Ward Partnership
Joinery: Longpre Furniture
Wood Species: English Oak
For this retreat in Somerset local the English oak used was estate timber dried in stacks in the sheds opposite the building site which became the generator for the wall construction and the aesthetic of the building.
The aim was to discreetly extend the house with minimal impact to the exterior, but with maximum effect internally, both spatially and sensually. A 450mm band – the width of the steel 1 beams – articulates the joint between the old and new structures and is legible throughout the house as a skylight, a bridge of two way mirror at first floor level and a strip of grilles at ground floor. The extension recalls log cabin construction, but with the gaps between the planks filled with laminated glass blocks. The waney edge is left on the planks externally to create a rough, rustic façade with deep overhangs to keep water away from the glass and to provide shading. Internally the timber is finely sanded and the glass polished. The glass blocks act as lenses and the overhangs further ‘disguise’ the drama of the interior from the outside and add a sense of ‘camouflage’ The depth of the timbers and of the composite glass blocks decreases up the façade from 92mm to 42mm to reinforce a sense of lightness and structure at the apex.
The extension was built by a cabinet maker rather than a conventional building contractor. The ‘spacers’ which read as columns are drilled and contain steel which clamps the building construction together, effectively turning the walls into giant beams.
There has been minimal movement in the structure since the building’s completion. As far as is known, this is the first time this method of construction has been used.