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Re-Format shows design for Surrey farmhouse


Re-Format has revealed its design for a new house to replace a notorious puppy farm within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The contemporary farmstead will be built on the site of Keepers Cottage Stud in Tilford, near Farnham, where John Lowe murdered Christine Lee and her daughter, Lucy, in 2014. 

The project, for client RAW Element, which has received planning approval from Waverley Borough Council, involves the demolition of existing buildings on the site.

A new five-bedroom, two-storey home with outdoor swimming pool will be built, along with a pool house/guest house and a home office. The buildings will be arranged around a courtyard. 

The design, which responds to the sloping woodland setting, incorporates timber-clad barn forms set on concrete bases. Green roof planting on single-storey flat roofs will provide a wildflower meadow blanket, while much of the surrounding land will be returned to natural paddocks. 

The scheme is expected to start on site in October. 

Project data

Location Tilford, Surrey 
Type of project  Residential
Clients RAW Element
Architect  Re-Format 
Planning consultant  Bell Cornwell
Ecologist  Ecosa
Start on site October 2019
Completion  TBC  
Gross internal floor area  Main house 729m²; total 995m²
Cost Undisclosed

Architect’s view

Matt Swanton, partner, Re-Format

Our initial response comes from the real feeling of enclosure you get from the site. A long, narrow driveway pulls you through the forest into a sloped clearing, where you feel fully contained by the pine forest. 

We wanted to explore creating a further enclosure within. We had long discussions with the clients about the enclosed garden and the nature of creating a more elaborate sequence of arrival than a conventional approach from the road to the front door. This has been broken down into first arriving at the gates, approaching a concrete toothed wall with glimpses into the enclosed garden.

A gentle, sloped walk along this eroded wall then leads to a long board marked concrete wall of the main house. Turning at a gap between these two planes take you into the enclosed garden courtyard and then finally the home itself by passing under the overhang of the timber volume to announce the arrival. This overhang frames a long view out into the depths of the pine forest.

The enclosure is made by positioning the various parts of the house, pool house and office to form the garden space, with a toothed concrete wall containing the arrival side, which allows glimpses in. One section of the garden enclosure is removed with just vestigial planting remaining so as to allow views out into the depths of the pine forest as you approach the main dwelling entrance.

The palette of materials has been kept simple, with a series of larch-clad volumes creating the farmstead type arrival set-piece. The substantial level changes are dealt with in board-marked concrete and local clunch limestone, which create a series of stepped plinths on which the courtyard timber forms can rest.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Timber boards oriented in the direction of the water flow do not a roof make.
    No overhang, wood siding, secret gutters; big troubles down the road.
    Even more so, if aggressive attorneys get wind of the many design incompetencies so often featured in this journal.

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  • It's a real mystery why humankind didn't widely adopt timber covered roofs centuries ago - or is there some reason why? Some details would be interesting, and so would a review in use upon revisiting this work of Re-Format, and other similar recent examples, in say ten years' time.

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  • Robert,
    Other than in the form of shingles or shakes - either split or sawn - timber roofs don't work.
    it seems to be the fashionable and environmentally correct thing these days to slap on some wood where it just doesn't belong. The piper will have to be paid one day when the innocent victims of this continual architectural blundering demand redress.
    I have to wonder whether or not the directors of The Thames Rowing Club gave much thought to the likely longevity of their upcoming project which was featured here a few days ago.

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