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Fun house: Strom Architects’ New Forest party annexe


Strom Architects has completed this wooden-clad, timber-framed annexe, designed to be used as a flexible party house with additional guest accommodation

The main house was designed by Magnus Strom at his previous practice, and externally, the annexe shares a common architectural language with the original structure: sweet chestnut cladding and black Kolumba brick, which visually ties the two buildings together. The annexe however has a pitched roof and smaller punched windows to provide it with its own distinct design identity.

Internally, the exterior walls and ceiling are clad in reclaimed pine, and all partitions walls are timber stud construction, clad in grey Valchromat. The floor is finished with the same black brick as the exterior plinth. The plan consists of two bedrooms, one bathroom, an open-plan living/games/bar area with a mezzanine storage area.

Stromarchitects watsonannexe richardchivers 46

Stromarchitects watsonannexe richardchivers 46

Source: Richard Chivers

Interior fittings such as the bar, bedside units and hanging rails have been designed to read seamlessly with the architecture, as if it’s all a single giant joinery item. The units are made out of grey Valchromat, wrapped in blackened steel and highlighted by recessed LED lighting.

Outside, there is a wooden deck complete with semi-sunken hot tub, a built-in brick seating area, pizza oven and wood store.

The annexe sits in an ecologically sensitive site within the New Forest National Park and extensive wildlife surveys had to be undertaken prior to beginning any works in order to minimise disruption to the natural habitats of different species.

Stromarchitects watsonannexe richardchivers 82

Stromarchitects watsonannexe richardchivers 82

Architect’s view

We wanted there to be a dialogue between the annexe and the main house, which is why we chose to use the same material palette for the new addition on site. However, we didn’t want to simply replicate the main house or deny the annexe its own identity. By using a pitched roof form and adopting a more solid facade with small punched windows, we were able to contrast it with the flat-roofed, heavily glazed main house. The resultant form is reminiscent of what a child might produce when asked to draw a ’typical house’.

The darker rooms and choice of interior materials reinforce the contrast with the bright, crisp white walls of the main house. The result is a cosy environment that focuses the inhabitants internally, making the internal walls and furniture more of a feature than a backdrop.

The annexe has a more playful feel than most of our architecture; this was intentional, ensuring that we rooted a sense of fun in it that would complement the client’s personality and the parties to come. The high quality materials and the complex, precise detailing ensure that the building retains its design integrity, whilst the interior touches maintains its sense of fun and party spirit.

Emma Ward-Lambert, project architect

Annexe plan copy

Annexe plan copy

Project data

Start on site November 2016
Completion September 2017
Gross internal floor area 57m²
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Strom Architects
Client Private
Structural engineer Calcinotto
QS Patrick Swift Associates
Main contractor Rice Projects
CAD software used Vector works


Readers' comments (4)

  • It may be somewhat harsh to state that UK architects have absolutely no clue when it comes to timber construction but this infantile project can do little other than further support the notion that concept and practicality are entirely unrelated fields.
    What on earth is the designer thinking!!??. Where is the water going to go?? Chestnut roofing, oriented in the direction parallel to drainage ain't gonna work. Where's the overhang; or does it really matter that the building isn't entirely waterproof?
    There is not one redeeming architectural feature - certainly nothing that a child of six could not improve upon.
    Experienced architects and designers need to step up to the plate and demand more training in the practicalities of timber design before yet more structural failures sully the reputation of a once noble profession.

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  • Hope it doesn't go the same way as Dartington Primary - or, to a less catastrophic extent - the Douglas Fir clad pitched roofs on Forestry Commission holiday cabins in Cornwall and Argyll of several decades ago.
    And maybe it's the photography, but the windows devoid of detail give the building a blank, almost hostile, look.

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  • Thanks for your comments, we just thought we’d clear up a few of your concerns.

    Fear not, the (open-jointed) sweet chestnut cladding is not providing the waterproofing - we have a single-ply roofing membrane wrapping the roof and walls to ensure that there is no opportunity for water ingress.
    Regarding where the water goes, we appreciate that it’s not clear on the photographs - this was purposeful so as not to clutter the little building with unsightly and impractical gutters or downpipes. Pine needles from the countless trees around the property have caused problems on the main house by blocking drainage outlets - despite the best efforts of multiple leaf-guards. As such, we purposefully chose not to use ‘traditional’ gutters, thereby avoiding repeating those issues. Instead, rainwater and pine needles can flow freely between the cladding, along the single-ply beneath, and down the face of the building. There are drainage channels in the ground beneath the cladding, which are wrapped in mesh and topped with a layer of gravel; this gravel acts like a natural filter and leaf-guard, preventing needles from ever entering the drainage channels.
    In terms of structural failures that might sully the profession: we’re relying on our fabulous structural engineers to deal with the structural issues and to uphold their profession. We (and Building Control) are happy that both they - and we - have crossed our respective 'T’s and dotted our ‘I’s.

    As far as we understand, Dartington Primary had an entirely different structure, specification and construction. Its failings were allegedly the lack of a vapour control layer which caused issues of condensation (we have a VCL); reliance on thin feather-edge sweet chestnut cladding which warped and had insufficient board overlap, allowing water ingress (we purposefully specified thicker cladding and increased the number of fixing points to reduce warping); and no waterproofing layer beneath the timber roof finish (we have single-ply membrane underneath ours).

    Hopefully this allays any worries about the annexe turning into a soggy little timber sieve

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  • A most courteous and gracious response to a shot over the bow Magnus; Although going some way in explaining the details of the build it does not put to rest my concerns about the likely longevity of the roof - nor the maintenance nightmare such a system could become. Granted there is a single ply waterproof membrane which can stand alone as a perfectly acceptable primary roofing suface, it cannot serve that purpose when multiple penetrations to fasten the support for the decorative timbers are required.
    Much the same system as designed for the Stirling Prize candidate, Barratts Grove, only in that instance the quite astonishing provision of a latticed patterned brick roof was specified.
    Certainly there is no fear of structural failure, no earthquakes, floods, snowloads or hurricanes to worry about. A perfectly conventional build with few openings would hardly require review by a SE.
    As the Dartington fiasco was mentioned I must point out that SE's signed off on it and, to their eternal shame, LABC gave it an award. I must note that through a FOI request I was sent the BRE report; quite frankly is is laughable - grown men on a roof with hoses trying to isolate a systemic leak. I was denied access to another Expert Witness report and also to the TRADA report - go figure!
    At least you specified good old stud framing and didn't run with the herd and use SIPS panels; or, even worse, CLT.

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