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Millar + Howard convinces Stroud planners with £500,000 underground house

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Millar + Howard Workshop has won planning, at the second attempt, for a new £500,000 home in the garden of an existing house in rural Gloucestershire   

The Cotswold-based practice’s original proposal for a ’more traditional’ two-storey building on the edge of Chalford was turned down by Stroud District Council last year.

However the up-and-coming outfit returned with a revised single-storey design which will be ’skillfully hidden into a sloping garden’ and reduce the impact on neighbours’ views of the valley beyond.

The 183m² three bedroom house will have a green roof and a planted timber canopy ‘to help feather the building into the surrounding landscape’.

Explaining the evolution of the designs, the practice said: ‘When reviewing the design [after the initial refusal] and having several constructive conversations with the planners it was decided that the right approach for this specific site, located on the edge of a settlement, would be to give greater consideration to the aesthetic transition between the open countryside and the existing settlement’s buildings.’

Tomas Millar, a founding director of Millar + Howard Workshop said: ‘It’s a great example of where a contemporary design is considered more appropriate than a traditional one.

You should not be tied to a particular preconception of what a house must be

‘You have to design each building for its specific location and not be tied to a particular preconception of what a house must be.’

The project will be built from sustainably sourced wood and Cotswold stone and is expected to start on site next year.

Architect’s view, by project lead Martina Goluchova

We’ve designed the single story building with a bio-diverse green roof – basically a meadow – so it seamlessly blends into the site with no impact on any of the neighbours’ current views over a beautiful garden. It’s situated on the edge of a settlement boundary next to a Grade II-listed church, so we had to consider the impact any new building would have.

The immediate landscaping around the proposed dwelling is the well-loved gardens of the clients so we were drawn to the concept of a secret garden retreat and the idea of using its own garden setting to enhance the structure and aesthetic both internally and externally. We created a garden pavillion-like structure that consists of two, cosy, enclosed almost nest-like parts connected by a glazed link to maximise the light and sense of space.

The large amount of glazing and the inevitable reflection helps to blend the building into the landscape. The green roof hides the house from view, adding mystery and creating a sense of nostalgic comfort, as though being inside an animal’s burrow; like living in a real Wind in the Willows.



Project data

Location Chalford, Gloucestershire
Gross internal floor area 183m²
Budget £500,000
Proposed start on site date Spring 2018
Proposed completion date Autumn 2018
Client Undisclosed
Architect Millar + Howard Workshop
Landscape and visual appraisal EDP
Ecologist All Ecology
Planning consultant Plainview Planning
Planning officer Stroud District Council
CAD software used Vectorworks, Blender

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