The clients had previously lived in No.44 Prince Edward’s Road, a large late Victorian detached house in a leafy Lewes suburb. The deeds for the property described the house and garden as two plots. The street numbers acknowledged that there was indeed a missing property as there was no No.42 Prince Edward’s Road.
BBM’s brief was to design a smaller detached dwelling on the side garden to their original house that the clients could retire to. Both clients were passionate about the environment and wanted the design of their new house to reflect this position.
Despite support from senior Planning & Conservation Officers at Lewes District Council from the beginning of the design process, No.42 took three years before it achieved Planning Approval at Appeal.
The approved design takes its cue from the proportions of the main fenestration elements of its immediate neighbours, as well as the Golden Section, although the overall massing of this four bedroom house needed to be less than its neighbours at the request of the Conservation Officer “in order to preserve some sense of space that currently exists”. The brick walls relate to the neighbouring stock bricks.
The resultant reduced mass is achieved by allowing the house to dig into the existing sloped site. The ground floor steps down the site from front to back as well as from side to side. The resultant floor plates define separate areas within open-plan environments on the ground floor in a similar way as houses designed by Adolf Loos did in the 1920’s. The result is a feeling that the house is “tardis-like” with many different separate places.
As with all BBM projects, materials are sourced locally. This is BBM’s first brick house; all external walls are Ibstock’s Tonbridge Heather Grey bricks with organic (recycled cotton & hemp) insulation and softwood timber frame treated with borax non-toxic timber treatment .
Insulation levels are way above Building Regulations. Heavyweight limestone floors are found throughout the ground floor levels running from inside to out; simultaneously blurring the boundaries between architecture and landscape, while acting as a natural ‘heat sink’. Under floor heating running below the limestone takes advantage of this too – it is primed by the solar gain collected in the lime stone. The gas-fired heating system is primed by evacuated tube solar thermal collectors. Rainwater is harvested at source and used to water the garden.