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Denizen Works wins approval for self-build backland houses


Denizen Works has been given the green light for a pair of self-build family homes on an abandoned, backland plot overlooking the Fant Nature Reserve in Maidstone, Kent

The 274m² timber-framed scheme, dubbed Ant and Bee, has been designed in collaboration with developer Arrant Land and will sit behind a row of terraces in Upper Fant Road.

The sloping 478m² plot had formerly been used as a mechanic’s workshops and is only accessible through a 2.1m-high archway under an existing terraced house.

According to the practice, the ‘long and thin’ 138m² Ant house will feature red textured metal cladding, while the ‘short and stout’ 136m² Bee home will be clad in ‘the timber of the woodland’. Each is expected to cost around £200,000 to construct.

A future timescale is not yet known.



The architect’s view

The site is a hidden and abandoned plot and is accessed via a 2.1m-high archway that passes below number 248. The site slopes down approximately 1.5m from north-west to south-east, with a sharp change in levels at the boundary giving elevated views over the natural landscape beyond.

Remnants of the site’s light-industrial history are drawn on in both massing and material choices.

Ant and bee axo

Owing to its adjacency to the nature reserve and laneway access, the site’s character is in sharp contrast to the terraced housing nearby, providing a private setting for the two houses to quietly co-exist, each with views over the canopy.

The orientation of the houses maintains privacy between the two and is respectful of surrounding neighbours. The arrangement also creates contrast, as dramatic framed views of the landscape will be revealed as you move inside and through the buildings.

The timber frames of the houses, simple ‘light-touch’ structural principles and components will be shared, giving an economy to the scheme while the different responses to the landscape will give them each a unique architectural character

The houses have been conceived to be self-built and we are now hopeful of finding end-users who can fully engage with the delivery of the scheme.

Project data

Location Maidstone, Kent
Type of project Residential
Client Arrant Land
Architect Denizen Works
Landscape architect N/A
Planning consultant Lee Evans Planning
Structural engineer Price and Myers
Main contractor: To be confirmed
Start on site date: To be confirmed
Gross internal floor area Ant 138m², Bee: 136m². Total 274m²
Annual CO2 emissions To be confirmed
Total cost To be confirmed

Proposed site plan upper fant road

Proposed site plan upper fant road 



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Readers' comments (2)

  • In the best tradition of ingenious backland architecture - I't'll be good to see it built.

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  • Lovely scheme, although backland development is traditionally driven by land values. Tight site with limited access along with a bespoke design might make this an expensive build.

    I wonder if there is enough in it to make it work from a developer perspective? Be fantastic to see it built though.

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