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White Hill House

This replacement house sits along a ridge within the Surrey Hills, so commands distant and wonderful south-facing views.
The 10.6 Ha site sits within the The Green Belt, an Area of Great Landscape Value (AGLV) and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Much of the site has a suburban landscape, but it is surrounded by small woodland and open pastures surround the site.
The brief was to create a large house of some 830M2 that would not feel overbearing for its two occupants, so we split the house into three distinct elements and linked these with a largely glazed circulation spine.
Two small courts separate three distinct volumes that form the house; the first greets the visitor and is planted as garden, the second is a place for outdoor living off the dining space. The theme of courts continues with the entrance court and the walled garden.

The house is formed in an earthy facing brick, with reconstituted stone forming a colonnade that shades the main living spaces as well as ‘containing’ the two small courts – it also wraps the houses as a lintel. Iroko timber panels and screens supplement the fenestration. This limited material palette lends the house a sense of permanence, a timeless quality.

Internally, the same limited palette prevails with structure exposed where possible. The circulation spine links the guest wing, past the entrance garden court, the main house accommodation, the outdoor dining court to the leisure pavilion and finally to the walled garden.

The central element is their ‘home’, providing all living spaces at ground level and a master bedroom suite with outdoor terrace at first floor. To the west lies a large existing, but derelict walled garden, so this is rebuilt and a single-storey pavilion is tucked into one corner containing a swimming pool and gym. To the east, and lying at right angles to the body of the house, lies a ‘guest’ wing, containing bedrooms at first floor, above service rooms and a garage at ground.

Part of the success of the design will be how the house interacts with the large site so we worked with Charlotte Rathbone (of the Rathbone Partnership Landscape Practice) to provide a landscape that would heal the suburban past of the site. The wider site is to be ‘re-wilded’ with wildflower meadows and the exiting woodland will be managed and extended with new tree planting. As the landscape approaches the house, it becomes a little more tamed. On the winding approach track, a large new lake is formed to reflect the sky, and arrival is into a Bredon gravel courtyard (in the English Country House tradition), framed by the three wings of the house and a low hedge. The sheltered walled garden becomes a resource for growing fruit, as well as relaxing in the sun.

The house is to be powered by a ground source heat pump, powered by a rooftop photovoltaic array and provision for battery storage is allowed for – the pool will run on an air source heat pump.

Client Confidential
Status Construction
Contract value £Confidential
GIA m2 830 m2
Planning consultant Planit Consulting
Structural engineer Momentum
Landscape architect Rathbone Partnership
Ecology Darwin Ecology
M&E consultant Mesh Energy / Lambert & Macfarlane
Contractor RW Armstrong & Sons
Project manager RW Armstrong & Sons
Quantity surveyor APS Associates
Arboriculturalist Jonathan Fulcher
Project Team Chris Gray, Phil Emmett, Pete Humphry
Photography © Nu.ma
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