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Platform 5 scoops planning for Hertfordshire house

Platform 5 Architects has won permission for this new scheme to replace a house destroyed by the Buncefield oil depot explosion in December 2005

The four-bedroom family home is set in a woodland clearing on the edge of Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.

Platform 5 Architects' new scheme to replace a house destroyed by the Buncefield oil depot explosion in December 2005

Platform 5 Architects’ new scheme to replace a house destroyed by the Buncefield oil depot explosion in December 2005

The architect’s view

Designed as a loose arrangement of rectangular forms to create a series of layers, courtyards and walkways, it has been influenced by local vernacular agricultural buildings. When grouped together, these otherwise simple buildings take on a more complex composition that shifts according to viewpoints. We’ve sought to create an elegant arrangement that can offer a similarly satisfying variety of viewpoints from around the large, open site.    

The house will use a simple palette of brick and timber with a horizontal emphasis and split in materials.

An outbuilding clad in painted metal will mirror the character of neighbouring farm buildings

The ground floor will consist of a grey brick plinth, broken in places by large full height windows and timber-lined sheltered spaces. A series of brick columns will support an external walkway around the perimeter of the house. Above, a timber-clad first floor will be arranged as an informal composition of overlapping roofs and terraces, while an outbuilding clad in painted metal will mirror the character of neighbouring utilitarian farm buildings. 

The house is laid out as two connected wings in a kinked L-shape framing a large, open garden area. Social and living spaces are to be contained in the wing nearest the driveway, while more private bedroom spaces will be housed to the rear of the site overlooking an orchard. The low-lying house will have a close relationship with the flat open site, and the earlier formal hedged garden will be replaced by naturalistic planting of native woodland flowers and plants. The house will enjoy views in all directions to the surrounding woodland, which will be retained not only to shield the house from passing traffic and neighbouring properties but also reduce noise from the nearby M1 motorway.  

Ground Floor plan

Ground floor plan

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