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The Firs, Tedburn St Mary, Exeter

New dwelling - The design was a direct response to the site – improving natural light and views, rationalising the circulation and providing open plan living linked to the external garden spaces.

The existing run down pre-fab 1960’s bungalow sat centrally on the site with an unused large steep garden to the front. As the floor level of the existing dwelling was on average 800mm below the immediate external levels at the rear, the living accommodation did not successfully link to the garden.

The new dwelling addresses these issues as follows: Split-level layout: takes advantage of the natural slope of the site. Allowing two-storey accommodation to the east elevation without greatly increasing the previous building’s ridge height. The single storey rear element, housing the kitchen and dining, are raised above the existing finished floor to allow level access to the rear garden.

Location – to create a larger useable rear garden the new building is located towards the entrance of the site. Parking and car manoeuvring are rationalised by creating additional parking alongside the existing drive and allowing cars from the garage to turn within the site.

Materials – the proposal employs a simple palette of render, western red cedar and zinc; traditional materials appropriate for a rural environment, but incorporating a modern sense of space, lightand detail.

Design – as the vernacular of Heath Lane is not traditional, and the adjacent houses are somewhat ‘ad-hoc’, the site warranted a contemporary approach. The design was a direct response to the site – improving natural light and views, rationalising the circulation and providing open plan living linked to the external garden spaces.

Comprehensive scheme – The roofs to the existing garage and store will be re-clad in zinc to match the proposed dwelling and the tile cladding replaced with cedar boarding.

Environmental Issues – the owners were keen to exploit the site’s potential to provide for its energy consumption. Natural light, ventilation, passive solar heating and high levels of insulation are maximised within the new work and ground source heating, solar panels and rain-water collection are employed to minimise its carbon footprint.

The dwelling built with a combination of timber frame + traditional techniques was completed, excluding external works, in December 2011.