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Cullinan Studio completes CLT and brick house in Buckinghamshire


Arts and Crafts-inspired design has a spruce CLT structure, steep roofs and uses local Chiltern brick with lime mortar

Situated in a mature garden in Amersham, the design of this new-build family home by Cullinan Studio developed from the client’s original idea for a timber-kit house, maximising efficiency and reducing waste.

Echoing the local 1930s Arts and Crafts architecture, the new two-storey house has a steep roof, solid form and simple palette of materials, with its main structure made out of spruce CLT.

It replaces an earlier dark, badly-insulated house which was ill-suited to the family’s needs. So the footprint of the house, unlike its predecessor, has been reorientated towards the garden. Natural light has been brought into the centre of the house through the ‘broken’ pitched roof with the overall form of the house delineated as three volumes. The house is clad in local Chiltern brick and lime mortar with black stained vertical timber panels above.

Cullinanstudio pushpull jimstephenson 205 midres

The main floor-plan of the house is symmetrical, with the volume of the entrance hall and stairwell flanked by the two mono-pitched volumes. The first floor level contains four corner bedrooms with two bathrooms, with a ladder leading to a high study ledge and guest bedroom above. The eastern pitched roof slopes down to an open plan, single-storey volume containing a large ground floor kitchen, living and dining space, with below a basement ‘den’ for the family’s children. On the western side of the ground floor sits an accessible bedroom for visiting grandparents and a study plus workshop. 

A built-in storage wall in the stair provides a display for the client’s books, ornaments and artwork, while over-lapping voids and double-height spruce walls allowing space and views across the main living spaces.

Cullinanstudio pushpull jimstephenson 112 midres

Architect’s view

Before we had built anything, we noticed that the family already had a favourite place in the garden – a place where the west sun swept round behind the north-facing frontage. By sliding the living room wing back into the garden, we were able to catch this afternoon and evening sunshine. Free corners frame views out to the garden, allowing the family to connect to their garden and the tall trees of the street. Glimpses of changing weather and sky follow the family as they go about their day.

Roddy Langmuir, practice leader, Cullinan Studio 

Pushpullhouse locationplan cullinanstudio

Client’s view

One of the key elements of the design which I get so much pleasure out of is the high-level clerestory windows which frame beautiful views of the trees and changing sky, enlivening the interior like a mural.

Overlapping voids and double-height spruce walls form a sequence of volumes so the living spaces flow together, making for a fun and sociable home. A storage wall built into the eastern stair displays the our books, ornaments and artwork, and mezzanine floors offer spaces for retreat with views back over across larger gathering spaces at the heart of the home.


Pushpullhouse ground floor plan

Project data 

Start on site January 2017
Completion date August 2018
Gross internal floor area 503m²
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Cullinan Studio
Client Private
Structural engineer HRW
M&E consultant Couch Perry Wilkes
QS Peter Gittens & Associates
Project manager Sharman Whyte
Main contractor GNC Construction

Pushpullhouse section b


Readers' comments (3)

  • Good to see the Cullinan magic at work, and so comprehensively presented.

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  • Each to his own but I can't help thinking the front elevation appears to be the two halves of an American mobile home awaiting connection.

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  • Fairly inoffensive, but surely it owes at least as much to the Huff-Haus style? As for it being a "timber-kit house, maximising efficiency and reducing waste", well yes, up to a point - the point being the mortared brcik cladding. Bang goes your efficiency and reduction of waste. And get some paint on the walls!

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