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Stephenson:ISA wins go-ahead for £8m country house

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Roger Stephenson’s practice has won planning permission for this £8million private home on the outskirts of Preston

Designed by Stephenson:ISA Studio and Ian Simpson Architects, the 1,981m² building has been designed as a ‘grand house in the English countryside’.

According to the design team, the project ‘interacts with the water features already on the site’.

In a statement Stephenson:ISA Studio said: ‘The site provides an opportunity to increase the interaction between it and the building in how it presents itself’.

‘The plot has good natural features – interesting contours and existing vegetation. The proposal is to ‘manage’ these features to enhance the setting of the house in the landscape and reducing its impact on the road side to the east.’

The practice claims the huge home will be the first in Preston to be built to Level 6 of the now-defunct Code for Sustainable Homes and will feature a micro solar farm and ground source heat pumps.

Work on site is expected to start this summer (2015) and complete in late 2016.

Bux house in Preston by Stephenson:ISA [approved March 2015] - elevation

Bux house in Preston by Stephenson:ISA [approved March 2015] - elevation

The architect’s view

The big challenge was to maintain a domestic scale while accommodating the extensive space requirements and, at the same time, giving the property a presence commensurate with a ‘grand house in the English countryside’

We have been influenced by a number of precedents:

  • The house needs to engage with the natural landscape and to form its own spaces- Frank Lloyd Wright houses did this to perfection. The Roman Villa is another good model.    
  • Approach to the typical English country house set in extensive grounds is often a ‘romantic’ journey through the landscape which only becomes formal as it approaches the house. The symbolic representation of the interface between the ‘natural’ and the ‘man-made’.
  • There is already water on the site, an opportunity to increase the interaction between it and the building presents itself.

The site has good natural features – interesting contours and existing vegetation. The proposal is to ‘manage’ these features to enhance the setting of the house in the landscape while, at the same time, reducing its impact on the road side to the east. This is achieved by some re-forming of the contours to allow the building to nestle into the land, leaving a bold composition to the west and a modest view to the east.

Choosing a court yard form of long low overlapping planes gives a great sense of arrival, but also helps reduce the scale, height and impact of the enclosing elements by spreading them out.  There is a direct reference to the traditional country house with its stables block, ancillary buildings and the main house.

The roof planes act like canopies to cover a number of different elements of accommodation.

From the entrance off the road an informal drive passes through the southern paddock which would have a combination of managed natural landscape and elements brought across the water from the main house such as a pedestrian bridge which would lead to informal pathways around the estate. This could perhaps include a kitchen garden. At this stage the awareness of the house is mostly shielded from view by the trees along the brook.

Once the road has crossed the water it passes alongside a naturally shaped lake, the house is revealed set above a large shallow reflecting pool and within a courtyard which faces west. The formal driveway runs along the north side of this space passing on its left, the north wing housing the car collection. The staff quarters and service area are discreetly positioned at the western end of this wing, allowing them good supervision over the approach road.

Car drop off can take place at the end of the drive or under cover just adjacent. Cars then pass out of sight to the northern side of the buildings for further garaging and parking.

The house is planned in zones. The main body of the house comprises the reception rooms at ground floor, the leisure facilities at lower ground floor the bedrooms on the first floor and the two master suites at second floor level.

The organically shaped space to the north on the ground floor is the family zone which looks south and east and accesses external terraces shared with the leisure facilities.

A staircase from the ground floor leads down one level to the function suite which is situated in the south wing and overlooks the lake.

This staircase also leads down to the prayer room which is a sculptural form situated on the south east corner of the building facing towards Mecca.

It is proposed that the palette of materials for the external elements will be kept minimal, white Portland stone, glass and some hardwood used in shutters etc.

Bux house in Preston by Stephenson:ISA [approved March 2015]

Project data

Architects: Stephenson:ISA Studio and Ian Simpson Architects
Location: Langley Lane, Goosnargh, preston PR3 2JP
Type Of Project: private residential
Structural Engineers: Renaissance
Project Architect: Jyh Lee of Stephenson:ISA Studio
Planning consultants: Cassidy + Ashton
Funding: private
Tender date: to be confirmed
Start on site date: to be confirmed
Contract duration: to be confirmed
Gross internal floor area: 1,981m²
Form of contract and/or procurement: to be confirmed
Total cost: approx. £8million       
M&e consultant: Max Fordham
Quantity surveyor: to be confirmed
Main contractor: to be confirmed
Selected subcontractors and suppliers: to be confirmed
Annual co2 emissions: Code for Sustainable Homes level 5

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