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Hurley and Hughes’ Kentish house draws on agricultural vernacular


The new-build dwelling in Kent, which has been entered in AJ Small Projects 2019, was built for £140,000 

Hurley and Hughes Architects’ house replaces and sits within the compact footprint of a former stable, due to being built in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Its design seeks to retain the agricultural character of the former building while creating a light, flexible home, capturing far-reaching views over the High Weald, framed by a crescent of oak trees. 

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1 8059 20560 b9770bc6d17034ac8928167b7c30930e

Architect’s view

Accommodation is spread over two floors with the upper level set in from the external walls, creating a tall circulation route around the perimeter, which opens into a double-height living room with a dramatic first floor cantilever. Designed in collaboration with Akera Engineers, it projects into the void and gradually reveals views of the landscape to the north. Private spaces are contained within a lower, ceilinged central zone, with a bedroom and study at first floor accessed by a generously proportioned oak stair at the centre of the plan.

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1 8059 20560 3336b1100b67e1a747acf4d581f860aa

The building form and selected materials were designed to sit quietly within its agricultural setting and reflect the character of vernacular livestock shelters in the wider area. As such, original clay roof tiles were reused, while narrow vertical cedar boards with horizontal breaks, which will grey over time, were selected to reflect the corrugated cladding on the surrounding agricultural buildings. A projecting bay south of the plan lights the primary circulation route, while also providing an oak-lined window seat framing a striking view of the adjacent Oast House.

Careful interior planning ensured only a small increase to the volume of the existing shelter, minimising the visual impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while the simplicity of the layout and robust detailing enabled the 85m² building and landscape to be delivered to a modest budget.

Project data

Start on site Sep 2016
Completion April 2018
Total cost £140,000
Procurement Minor Works Building Contract with contractor’s design
Architect Hurley and Hughes Architects
Client Private
Structural engineer Akera Engineers
Main contractor THP Carpentry

AJ Small Projects

The AJ Small Projects Awards celebrate completed projects with a contract value of £250,000 and under. The much-loved fixture of the architectural calendar has been sponsored for the eighth year by Marley.

Click here to view a selection of over 130 projects already entered into the 2019 awards. You can submit entries until the extended deadline of 1 February 2019. Good luck!


Readers' comments (4)

  • In no way should my comment be regarded as a criticism of this rather charming project; but as a concern over the inadequacy of the outdated and convoluted Building Regulations to address modern standards of construction and safety.
    Those winding stairs!!!! Absolutely hazardous! Essentially creating a three riser drop just where Granny is most likely to tread when unsteadily clambering down for breakfast.
    True, the Building Regulations require a minimum tread of two inches in such a condition; the much more clear and comprehensive IBC/IRC require six inches, and thus provides yet more evidence of the need to adopt this modern and comprehensive code.

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  • To be fair, at 45 degrees the winder seems to be generously planned - perhaps Granny would be more concerned at the apparent lack of any handrail, unless it's just out of shot.
    And the younger generation might find it difficult to maintain the walls in good decorative condition at tread level - but at least this stair does have walls, with no unprotected drop on one side.

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  • Industry Professional

    So much wasted space...

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  • Some might call it wasted space, while others would call it architecture; the typical cross section of this form of 'storey and a half' house has a long and surely distinguished pedigree, from those prefabricated Danish designs typical of small communities on the Greenland coast to the more recent development of the idea in Scotland (predominantly the more remote areas).
    The internal planning provides scope for both ingenious use of space and creation of space, within an affordable envelope..

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