Sergison Bates Architects has won a rare planning victory for a ‘country house clause’ project under paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework - formerly PPS7
The home for Viscount Lymington will replace a redundant 1930s water tower on his family estate at Farleigh Wallop, Hampshire.
The architects worked with planning consultant Martin Harradine on the scheme and as part of the assessment procedure the design underwent a peer review, gaining support from the likes of architectural critic Joseph Rykwert and RIBA Gold Medal-winner David Chipperfield.
Chipperfield said: ‘The built environment will always require exemplars for which architects, planners and developers may refer in order to maintain high standards of architectural quality, particularly in rural places. This house of modest size but high architectural merit, designed by a highly respected and internationally renowned architect, provides this reference.’
The architect’s view
The tall, sculptural form retains the powerful presence of the water tower in the landscape, but while referencing the Picturesque tradition of hunting lodges, leisure follies and prospect towers associated with English country houses and their estates, it breaks from the country house canon in its verticality and simplicity.
Conceived as a cast block creating a massive vertical mass with deep window recesses scooped out of the walls, the house is anchored to the ground by a low courtyard extension. The interior is then carved out to create a variety of spaces: a sequence of large and smaller rooms unfolds as one moves through the house along a winding stair, to the high-ceilinged reception room on the third floor, culminating in a rooftop terrace which allows long views across the landscape.
The design integrates sustainable construction and thermal performance principles with space-making ideas. Flint field stones gathered on the site are used to create monolithic walls using white cementitious aggregate. The surface is subsequently hammered to expose the flint shards, giving the building’s material expression a light-catching quality. The architects’ energy efficient approach to construction and the ambition for the house to be an exemplar of Passivhaus standards make the project an innovative and important reference point for buildings of high quality in rural areas.