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High Down, Nr South Molton

Replacement dwelling - The remote plot, in the North Devon countryside, with no near neighbours and panoramic views allowed the design to be uncompromisingly contemporary.

The dwelling is a response to the site with the most public facades kept simple, beyond which the building opens up and is orientated towards the site, sun and views. The design reflects and celebrates both vernacular architecture and the 21st century, through its form and employment of traditional materials in a modern way.

Courtyard/form – The L shaped footprint of the dwelling and the garden stone walls form a courtyard style approach, clearly defining the public area. The north and east facades facing into the courtyard are simple with small casement windows which is a design approach similar to that of many vernacular Devon dwellings. The roofs are mono-pitched embracing and opening the dwelling up to the site (south and west) and views beyond. This is further reflected by the introduction of large glazed panels and cedar cladding to the south.

Layout – The glazed link houses and clearly indicates the entrance area and circulation. The ground floor north wing housing the more utilitarian activities – plant, garage, utility and the south wing is largely glazed open plan living areas which link to site and views beyond. The first floor splits the accommodation (3 bedrooms to the south wing, 2 to the north) allowing flexibility in the use of the dwelling appropriating smaller or larger family units and guests.

Materials – Graphite grey zinc (to walls and roof), similar in colour to slate, and reminiscent of rural barn vernacular: White painted render: a durable material employed throughout Devon: Western Red Cedar which does not require any surface treatment or ongoing maintenance. It weathers to an inconspicuous silver which would be in keeping with local vernacular: Glazing: The distinction between inside and outside is eroded through constructional detail: the use of frameless structural glass walls and large sliding doors in conjunction with the employment of wall and floor materials continuing internally and externally.

Sustainability – The layout and orientation of the dwelling have been arranged so the ground floor living areas are south facing so they benefit from solar gain, light, and views. The first floor oversails the ground to provides solar shading in summer yet still allows beneficial solar gain in winter. Rendered blockwalls, ground bearing slab and beam and block first floor act as thermal mass. Cedar clad and zinc walls and roofs are timber framed allowing increased levels of insulation – above that required by building control. Ground source heating and a heat recovery whole house ventilation system is employed to heat the dwelling via underfloor heating and to provide warmed filtered fresh air throughout the property.
The dwelling was completed in early 2013.