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Smith House

The site is a standard suburban plot replacing a 1950’s house, one street back from a scenic beach, near Christchurch on the south coast of England. The clients’ design brief was for a retirement house that could be comfortably occupied at ground level, but can then expand when family arrive to stay by the use of first floor bedrooms. It further required the main living spaces to open onto the north-facing garden.
The house is therefore planned around a calm central court that sits between a single-storey frontage to the street allowing south light into the main north facing living spaces beyond.

The single storey volume faces the street and contains a guest suite and garage. It is separated from a rear 2-storey volume beyond by a courtyard that allows south light to enter the open-plan living space beyond.

From the entrance hall, a glazed passage passes the courtyard to enter into an open plan kitchen and double-height dining space. A central fireplace stack separates the dining and living spaces, and a staircase cantilevers from this leading up to a first floor gallery.

Upstairs, the rear (north facing) wall of the landing becomes a library, with shelving lifted off the floor to allow glimpses down to the garden and provide access to a master bedroom suite and two further bedrooms.

The lower volume of the house is clad in an insulated external acrylic render to pick up on the seaside vocabulary of white rendered buildings, while the upper volume is clad in western red cedar boarding. The overall impression is that of a low white base with a lighter, floating ‘box’ set back from the road.

A large brick chimney anchors the building to the site.

Client Mike & Diane Smith
Status Completed (2011)
Contract value £650,000
GIA m2 280 m2
Structural engineer Barton Engineers
Contractor Ridgetree Projects
Photography © Andy Matthews
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