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A contemporary, sustainable home in a rural idyll.
Timothy Soar, Jack Hobhouse
To combine the homeowners varied vision, Dyer Grimes required a site full of beauty and a cutting – edge design. Assad found the ideal site, but its greatest asset was also its greatest challenge: it was nestled in the middle of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Planning approval on an AONB is rarely granted for fear of having the landscape tarnished. This was evident from the site's troubled past. A poorly designed and poorly located bungalow wasted the potential of the site, yet the numerous applications to replace it had either failed or never progressed past the construction stage.
The High Weald is characterised by firmly traditional rural architecture. The community and the planning officers had never encountered contemporary design in their area, so Dyer Grimes had to tread delicately to avoid Assad's plans being undermined or rejected.
However, the green construction pushed the bar for sustainable, efficient design. Roof top solar panels, ground source heat pumps and ecological improvements to the site resulted in the build obtaining Code Level 3 ‘carbon emissions far surpassed Code level 4, saving 70% carbon emissions beyond the requirements of building regulations, Part L, for Sustainable Homes – more than meeting the council's demands.
To lessen the visual impact on the landscape Dyer Grimes moved the location of the site further back from the road than the existing bungalow, and even achieved a reduced footprint and height, despite increasing floor space by expanding below ground.
A clean, asymmetrical, white frame wraps around floor to ceiling glass on the ground floor, while the lower ground floor – partially concealed by the sloping terrain – is clad in local Tunbridge Wells stone.
Inside is equally striking, the ground floor boasts luxurious open-plan spaces that can be adapted into more intimate rooms thanks to concealed pocket doors. The ground floor includes; kitchen and pantry, dining, living and play rooms, along with importantly - the wine cellar. On the floor below are five bedrooms, allowing the family to grow and guests to feel at home. Despite being partially below ground, the design utilises the open side of the slope to provide every bedroom with plentiful natural light.
The local council and the surrounding community was convinced, but most importantly the family are delighted. The happy couple are now enjoying family life in one of the most sustainable, beautiful and advanced homes in the country.
Dyer Grimes have designed a contemporary and sustainable home in the countryside, for a couple who had completely different views on what entailed their perfect home. The ideas varied between the homeowner's vision of countryside living and contemporary architecture and Lisa’s desire for classic buildings and London living. The home also had to be suitable for 2 small children.
The client's infectious enthusiasm and demand for the latest and greatest design and technology would fuel one of Dyer Grimes’s most ambitious projects, but could the peace of rural life really replace urban convenience?