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John Pardey wins go-ahead for ‘Murcutt homage’ house on Tamar Estuary

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John Pardey Architects has won consent to build a 133m² pre-fabricated home on stilts next to the River Tamar which pays homage to Australian legend Glenn Murcutt

The ’low-impact’ holiday house will be raised up to avoid predicted flood levels on the Weir Quay site 10 km up the Tamar Estuary from Plymouth, Devon.

According to the practice, the green oak-framed Passivhaus-standard building will ‘touch the earth lightly’, echoing Murcutt’s sensitive and sustainable approach to design.

The £450,000 home for a retired couple, who are keen sailors and who renovate Victorian steam boats, will be clad in horizontal timber boarding and features a zinc standing-seam monopitch roof. The building, which will be constructed off-site, will replace an existing 1970s pre-fab.

Work is expected to start in July this year and take 12 months to complete.

Phillips house, tamar estuary by john pardey sketch

Phillips house, tamar estuary by john pardey sketch

Architect’s view

Weir Quay sits on the east bank of the Tamar, some 1.6km south-west of the village of Bere Alston.

The site has a gated right of way to a quay, once a former dock serving lead and silver mines. The first lead/silver smelter at Weir Quay was built in 1780 and the Tamar Smelting Works in 1820. By 1849 tin was also processed here. In 1845 the quay was deepened to allow vessels of up to 400 tons and coal from South Wales was landed here as well as ore from all over the world for smelting locally.

The proposal replaces a 1970s pre-fab and the concept for this holiday home is based on the idea of a green-oak framed, off-site prefabricated pavilion.

It seeks to have a low impact upon its site, raised up on stilts to avoid predicted flood levels. It ‘touches the earth lightly’, to float above the riverbank and pays homage to the great Austrailian architect Glenn Murcutt.

A linear plan, roughly parallel to the road, lies close to the water’s edge providing views south and across the river from all rooms. A small inset terrace to the southern corner off the master bedroom enjoys views down-river.

Walls are infilled in horizontal timber boarding and all timber is given a single coat of black translucent stain to provide a grey tone. A zinc standing-seam monopitch roof rises up away from the river and has a projecting timber awning to provide solar shading. To the front, facing the road, the house is quite blank, save for a doorway with the upper part as a clerestory set behind vertical timber slats.

The landscaping is preserved as found rather than being domesticated or ‘garden designed’ with shale slate chippings to the slipway and entrance court and indigenous low shrub planting to the ground surfaces.

The house has been designed and will be constructed to Passivhaus principles and specification. Primary heating will be via an electric immersion heater on a two-tier tariff, supplemented by a highly efficient wood burner. Solar shading has been carefully considered to avoid summer overheating. Along with site orientation and topography, the windows are positioned and sized to ensure excellent daylighting levels within the house.

Phillips house, tamar estuary by john pardey interior

Phillips house, tamar estuary by john pardey interior

Project data

Location Weir Quay, Tamar Estuary, Devon
Type of project House
Client Mike and Susan Phillips
Architect John Pardey Architects
Structural engineer Fold Engineers
Quantity surveyor APS Associates
Main contractor TBC
Tender date To be co
Start on site July 2019
Completion July 2020
Contract duration 12 months
Gross internal floor area 133m²
Procurement Negotiated contract
Total cost £450,000

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