A flood-proofing project to protect Marsh Hill – a visually outstanding and unique property occupying an isolated position overlooking the estuary of the River Alde in Suffolk – has been completed.
Located off Saxmundham Road, Aldeburgh, and commanding magnificent views across the marshland to the river, the house is located in an area of outstanding beauty, and was designed to ‘hover over the landscape like a seagull’s wing.’
Flooding of the site in 2013 by exceptionally high tides led to the house owners installing local flood defences on the site and commissioning a flood-proof house raised from the ground.
Main Contractors for the project were Willow Builders, with Mole Architects as architects; Interior Couture as interior designers and Smith and Wallwork as Structural Engineers.
Local planning rules imposed restrictions on the height of the house, which could not exceed its previous height, or disrupt views from a dwelling to the north.
The form of the house is a creative response to these conditions, as well as to the site itself, which slopes upwards by approximately two metres from east to west.
The new house ‘maps’ the landscape, opening up an expansive south elevation to views of the wetlands, and locating private spaces on an upper level in the easterly end of the plan.
Constructed around a timber frame, the building is clad entirely in white painted brickwork and dramatised by a sweeping zinc roof, which wraps down the south elevation, reflecting both water and sky.
The house is entered from the northern end through a projecting entrance leading into a hallway that opens up into a tall living space, revealing the twist of the roof.
Beyond the main living area, steps lead down to a kitchen and dining area with large sliding windows opening the room to the southerly views.
A generous hallway leads to the guest bedrooms and bathrooms to the west, while stairs from the living room lead up to the master bedroom suite and study, nestled into the high point under the roof to the east.
Environmental strategies are cleverly concealed in the build: a landscape of native coastal planting and meadow grasses conceal the ground source heat pump coils which heat the house; water is supplied from an on-site well, and waste water is disposed of through a treatment plant and drainage field.
Painted brick also appears inside, with monolithic masonry blocks separating the living and dining areas and punctuating the guest bedroom corridor.
A simple palette was created with a colour scheme of cool blues, whites and greys and a recycled clay flooring that adds warmth and character.
Reclaimed bricks from Poland were cut and polished and used throughout the main space, and a bespoke terrazzo floor made of Norfolk flint and slate chippings was laid on the lower level. Elsewhere, encaustic patterned tiles and stained oak create rich detail in smaller rooms.
The project commenced in August 2014 and was completed in September 2015.