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New build exposed in-situ concrete family home in rural East Sussex
Raw Architecture Workshop
RAW is working on an unusual new build, single storey, concrete ‘bunker’ home for a young family on a rural site in East Sussex. The occupants wish to be completely enveloped by a single material.
The design examines how the building will feel. ‘Dead’ acoustics, dark corners, sunken spaces, secret routes, a sense of significant mass, and the interplay of light and dark spaces formed the main areas of exploration during concept design. Tower Houses and wartime coastal bunkers containing desirable characteristics such as solidity; permanence; simple external form, sculptural internal form; inhabited mass; use of a single material; the spirit of adventure and a sense of sanctuary; became strong reference points throughout the process.
The proposal consists of a series of cast in situ concrete blocks surrounding a larger central space. Numerous openings, cavities and volumes have been carved out of the mass to create a series of overlapping routes and spaces to be discovered, which rise gently across the site. Oblique openings providing contrasting levels of indirect daylight and sunlight into each of the spaces have been designed to remind the occupant what the weather is doing, and provide glimpses of the garden, the south downs and the nearby tree tops.
The process is following a fairly unorthodox trajectory and continues to evolve. During Technical Design [RIBA Stage 4] the Design Team established a working relationship with Cemex [www.cemex.com] who are providing a number of advanced fibre reinforced, self-compacting concrete types for use in the construction, and Peri [www.peri.ltd.uk] who are prototyping their latest lightweight composite polymer formwork system across the entire project.
The Client / Main Contractor, Cemex and Peri are treating the building as a case study to test the various products, associated alternative methods of sequencing and construction. In keeping with the experimental nature of the project, the final outcome of the finer detail, and the appearance of the board marks, concrete colour / finish, position of tie bar holes, and construction joints is being determined on site. The project explores what can be achieved with exposed in-situ concrete, on a residential scale, within an extremely tight budget.