Two new houses located on a dramatic, south-facing hillside overlooking the beach in the village of Porthtowan on the north Cornish coast
The site has particularly fine views down the coast to St Ives. Surprisingly, for such a prominent and relatively remote coastal site, the new houses are surrounded by a suburban estate of bungalows dating from the 1950s.
The two houses are for the same client, a couple with a teenage son. The larger house, Malindi, is the main family home.
The smaller house, Providence, accommodates an artist’s studio at upper ground floor level, and an apartment for visitors and family at lower ground floor level. Both houses replace much smaller, substandard houses owned by the client.
To reduce the impact on the landscape, and to avoid blocking the view from the houses further up the hillside, both are built into the 1 in 7 slope of the hillside, so the houses are single storey on the road side and two storey on the seaward side.
The two adjacent sites face south, and this orientation has been used to create two passive solar-gain houses to minimise both the use of fossil fuels and energy costs. This has been achieved partly by fully glazing the southern elevations of the two houses, and partly by using highly insulated, high-mass construction for the remainder of the two houses.
To prevent overheating in summer, the glazed southern elevation is set back behind hardwood verandas. These provide full-width balconies at upper ground floor level and protect the interiors from the high summer sun while allowing the much lower winter sun to penetrate deep into the two houses. The external cladding, roof decking and veranda structures are all made from FSC-certified hardwood, which has been left unfinished to weather naturally to a silvery grey.
Simon Conder, director, Simon Conder Associates