Located on the outskirts of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, Peacock House is a new build family residence created by English architects Studio-P and Swiss architects BHSF Arkitekten.
Speaking to Premier Construction magazine, Peter Barry, Director of Studio-P said: “BHSF is based in Switzerland and the clients are actually the parents-in-law of Axel Humpert (BHSF’s director) – we knew each other already, and he was looking for a UK firm to partner with, so we decided to do it together. Studio-P then became the English side of the architectural team.”
Located in an area of large two and three storey detached houses, most of the neighbouring dwellings to Peacock House are set back from the road meaning that the main characteristics of the immediate context is greenery.
Peacock House is a single storey dwelling through three volumes.
Peter commented: “There was already a covenant on the site relating to maximum heights and existing views for the neighbours to the east of the property. The site was originally part of the neighbouring property and was divided when it was sold so agreed heights and views – for example from the neighbouring house to the marshes – had to be retained as part of the covenant.”
The planning of the house divides the site into three distinctive areas: a semi-private driveway that links the entrance to the road, a central courtyard that forms the heart of the property and a wild garden to the back of the east side.
Peter said: “The elements of the build that stand out for me are the layout of the three buildings and the materials. From a layout perspective, the three buildings are centred around the courtyard, so you have to enter the courtyard before entering the building, where it reveals itself to you. From the materials side, charred timber cladding and flint knapping have traditionally been used in the area, so that was an opportunity for us to incorporate them into the design.
“The groundwork is still ongoing even though the property has been completed. There is a large cherry tree in the courtyard and at the front of the property there are lots of fruit trees. To the east end of the property we’ve created a wild garden so it’s less manicured – we’ve used plants local to the area so the building sits a little easier in its surroundings.”
The property is made up of an artist’s studio, sauna, office and garage. The space has been described as flexible to allow the semi-retired owners areas in which they can re-create the space when necessary.
“There is a main building and two smaller buildings which are designed to be flexible,” said Peter. “The smaller buildings were designed to be studios for the client. One is a doctor and the other is an artist so they wanted studio and office space but those two spaces can also be used as bedrooms if required. Family stay there from time to time so they use that space slightly differently depending on their needs. They wanted to be able to accommodate large groups at Christmas and so on.”
Finished at the end of 2016, the project has gone on to win a 2017 RIBA East Award.
Commenting on winning the award, Peter said: “It’s great to have the recognition and publicity – interest in this project is also bringing attention to other work we’ve done, so we’d hope this might bring us some similar sized projects.”
Feedback from the client has also been positive.
Peter added: “They were on board for the whole process and are very happy with the results. It’s quite a change for them. Previously they lived in Scotland – they’re going from a traditional stone building in Glasgow to a single storey, three-part house in Aldeburgh.
“Overall it was a really interesting project to work on. There was a big mix of nationalities. I am Irish working in England with a German/Swiss company, doing a project for clients who are English but have Canadian and Iranian backgrounds and we were working with Polish and Hungarian builders on site. That was another great thing about the RIBA award, to feel that everybody who worked on the project, the builders as well as the architects, was being rewarded. You see the benefit of certain things, so for example, I noticed that in Switzerland they seem to put a lot more information into pricing so you are more prepared when you go on site. There are risks to that of course, but there were parts of the build and parts of the architecture that benefited from having considered certain aspects so early on in the process.”
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