The client approached Brighton-based Archangels Architects to develop a distinct family home for planning on its 43-acre grassland site, comprising a SINC (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation), in close proximity to London. For the design to consider the building and site as a unified whole, the architect, landscape designer and arboriculturalist were brought in at the start, collaborating throughout the 5 year project, and produce a well-considered design for the client’s application for planning permission.
Set to be built almost entirely underground, the home was created to have minimal impact on the surrounding area and disappear unobtrusively into the horizon. The subterranean home features a vegetated earth roof and follows the natural curves of the countryside, merging effortlessly with the rolling hillside.
The brief included the requirement for minimal hard landscaping around the proposed house, enhancement of landscape and local biodiversity, extensive wild flower meadow, renewable energy options, and woodland copses to extend wildlife corridors to surrounding woodland and vegetable garden.
The design incorporated 5 acres of mixed coppice woodland – Oak, Ash, Hazel and Hawthorn – to eventually supply the bio-mas boiler within the planned property, and 27 acres of meadow, providing habitat for 51 grassland species (a significant increase on the 15 species present on the site). A vegetable garden and orchard featured close to the house. A new still pond was designed to support amphibious life.
A positive and collaborative approach was sustained with the architect throughout. Multiple stakeholders were consulted during to inform the design and planning application, including local neighbours, arboriculturalist, planning department and County Ecologist.
The client was granted special planning permission under Paragraph 79 (formerly Paragraph 55 clause in the National Planning Policy Framework), which grants exceptions for rural properties of outstanding architectural merit, a testament to the building’s superior design.
We are thrilled with the result and delighted for the client and for Dan Lobb who received the Paper Landscape Award from the Society of Garden Designers in 2016 for his work on this project.
Image copyright: Archangels Architects