Liddicoat & Goldhill has won planning permission for Thousand Trees House, an eco-friendly country home to be built on virgin countryside at Wicken Bonhunt, Essex
Approved under NPPF paragraph 55 - the replacement for the former ‘contemporary country house’ clause officially known as Clause 11 of Planning Policy Statement 7 (PPS7) - the house will be built with locally-sourced timber and blends a rural vernacular with contemporary, sinuous geometry.
The architect’s view
The building is conceived as an extension of its setting, extending and amplifying the slopes and curves of the landscape. The organic, flowing assembly of shingle roofs, stained timber cladding and carefully-composed sheer glazing is derived from the topography of the wooded former gravel pit.
We collaborated with ARUP Engineering to develop a new approach to domestic sustainable design.
The winged plan of the house and the spreading profile of the roof capitalises on the site’s microclimate to minimise carbon use at source, rather than introduce carbon-rich materials and superfluous technologies. The layout of the interior spaces encourages activity to follow the path of the sun through the day.
The house will be framed and clad in locally, sustainably-sourced timber. Working in partnership with Fluid Structures, we are treating the house as a laboratory to explore timber’s structural potential. Construction, will involve a combination of CNC pre-fabrication and traditional hand-craftsmanship on site using short-stave timber.
The landscaping works by enhancing the site’s extant ecological character, merging the house with the foliage.
Much of the design development has been carried out through model making; preliminary models were shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and at the RIBA’s Open Architecture exhibition at Portland Place last year.
The planning application was endorsed by Richard Rogers, the Shape East Design Review Panel chaired by Bob Allies, and by academics, practising architects and journalists. Uttlesford’s planning officers were closely engaged throughout the design process, and the proposal was enthusiastically approved at the first attempt by the councillors: the scheme was passed by 10 votes to 1, with one councillor hailing it as an exemplar for future rural building