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DLM Architects Guernsey

DLM Architects
Written by Roma Publications

DLM Architects – Recognition on a grand scale

Shortlisted in no less than five projects in the Guernsey Design Awards 2018 – adding to two past outright wins – DLM Architects of Guernsey continue to win recognition for their outstanding work.

Shortlisted projects for 2018 include: The Glade in Green Lanes, St Peter Port; Buho, Fermain Lane, St Peter Port; DLM Studio, St Peter Port; Maison Poitou, St Pierre du Bois, and Le Vieil Puit in St Saviour.

A delighted David De La Mare, managing director of DLM Architects said: “This was great news for us, we entered five varied projects and were very surprised when they all got shortlisted.

“In the last Guernsey Design Awards we entered two projects – Rosso Bar which won The People’s Choice category – and La Frene which won the Small Projects Award and Contractors Award.”

DLM Architects

The Glade

The project, shortlisted in the Residential New Build (over £250k) category, involved the creation of an energy efficient and sustainable family home for David De La Mare and his family, on a densely planted site.

DLM Architects also acted as main contractors for the scheme.

The building was designed to minimise being overlooked and maximise natural light and solar gain, whilst avoiding the numerous root protection areas of the surrounding trees and maintaining a proportionate footprint to the previous development on site.

The dwelling is sunk into the natural topography of the site, within an existing clearing in the trees (glade). A large basement took advantage of the existing swimming pool excavation and the deep foundations required in this area, whilst the ground floor is entirely wrapped in Guernsey granite, predominantly sourced on site.

Natural lime render highlights the porch and carport. A steel frame cantilevers above the eastern side fully planted as a living wall with a mix of 13 native species (over 4000 total and irrigated via borehole), camouflaging the building within the surrounding tree canopy and providing an acoustic and pollution buffer to the nearby roads, plus additional thermal benefits.

This reflects the character of the overall site; surrounded by high granite walls with mature vegetation above.

A double height glazed link accommodates the vertical circulation and breaks the overall mass to the cedar-clad, shed-like form that floats above the western side.

The spacial arrangement supports the desired open plan living, maintaining vertical connections and a direct relationship to external amenity, whilst providing the opportunity of enclosed intimate pockets.

A natural palette has been selected throughout, including an internal skin of locally reclaimed brick coated with lime slurry, raw pigment plasters lining the walls, with grey limestone flooring, oak joinery, machined brass ironmongery, a bespoke raw steel staircase and furnishings and a reclaimed granite trough as the cloakroom sink.

Where possible, local materials and fabrication has been utilised to demonstrate the skillset and workmanship available on the island, and the quality of build that can be achieved within the budget.

David De La Mare commented: “This is actually my own home and is situated on a sensitive plot, which took us four years to obtain planning permission.

“With my family as the client there was great pressure to get it right. We were experimental in what we were doing and saw the project as a showpiece as well as requiring a home which worked practically – however the project was a great success and all the family love it.”

DLM Architects


This scheme, in the Small Projects category, involved the conversion of a dated events venue into a raw and gritty environment for a new Latino restaurant, Buho (Owl).

The project was carried out by main contractors Concept 360.

DLM had only four weeks to establish a concept, detailed design and a construction programme for works to be achieved between pre-booked events. Phase 1 was to be completed within four weeks, ensuring the space was fit for a wedding, followed by a two week window to complete for opening night.

With a budget of only £200,000, it was necessary to source materials within this timescale, whilst not compromising the practice’s sustainable ethos and design style.

The scheme developed from a palette of locally available reclaimed materials and offcuts, designed to provide a cost effective, but robust and flexible space with a welcoming atmosphere.

A layering of natural tones and textures form a vivid background canvas, allowing accessories and guests to provide vibrant highlights. A blackened steel suspended grid sits between existing beams, framing a tapestry of weathered metal and distressed timber that conceals all services and acoustic control, with a cascade of adjustable mixed lighting below.

Almost every aspect of bars, booths, tables, lighting and ceilings were bespoke designed by DLM, and fabricated locally to form a cohesive theme of detail. The existing structure is clad in reclaimed brick, with a monolithic black brick and steel bar contrasting against the textured venetian plaster beyond.

Elsewhere, heavily charred reclaimed scaffold boards line more intimate areas, with distressed planks defining spacial breaks between zones.

Working in collaboration with local sign writers and artists, DLM were able to integrate the brand into the interior design and create a unique atmosphere.

Working very closely throughout all stages with the client and contractor, DLM Architects were able to deliver a true team effort which was a testament to all consultants and subcontractors involved.

David De La Mare said: “The main challenge of this project was the tight timescale. With bookings already made we had to prepare the site at various stages so that the events could take place. We had a good team on site and a great relationship with the client – and by getting everyone on board we were able to maximise the budget. It was a great team effort and we have had good feedback from the client and public.”

DLM Architects

DLM Studio

On the Small Projects shortlist, this scheme, providing a new studio for DLM Architects themselves, who were also the main contractors, involved the creation of an inspiring space different to the traditional office environment.

The practice’s involvement with multiple aspects of the construction industry, from design, procurement and fabrication, mean that storage and workshop space is as necessary as the studio itself. However the benefits of having this under a single roof means that more technical fabrication techniques can be closely integrated.

Every detail has been considered and fabricated with precision to allow each space to function independently, as required.

The robust selection of materials is honest to the industrial setting and the fit-out serves as an example of the approach that DLM take towards design, showcasing a raw palette of natural and reclaimed materials.

The workshop is concealed behind old concrete shuttering boards, the stairs are lined in oak reclaimed from a recent demolition, and the kitchen features reclaimed bricks and locally milled timber. Within the double height spaces, light fixtures from the airport runway were salvaged from scrap, sand blasted and converted to LED pendants.

Within the studio, DLM designed and fabricated lightweight timber rafts, integrating flush lamp shades with polished plaster, which gives the illusion of heavy concrete slabs floating above the workspaces. These suggest a domestic scale beneath the exposed roof structure and also integrate acoustic deadening.

The meeting room utilises the existing blockwork structure, along with charred timber lining with a contrasting meeting table fabricated from blackened steel trestles suspending two slabs of locally felled oak. Large elements of glazing allow visual connection between spaces and encourage natural light flow despite the limited fenestration of the building envelope.

David De La Mere said: “We took over this large warehouse in order to combine our design space with our fabrication facilities and wanted to produce something a little bit different so that our office became our showroom, as well as providing an inspiring place to work. Staff, clients, contractors and others visiting the new studios have been impressed with the result – so the project was a success.”

DLM Architects

Maison Poitou

Also on the Small Projects shortlist, this scheme, constructed by main contractors Jamie Allez Carpentry & Construction Ltd, was developed for a client who designs and produces beautiful tapestries inspired by the local vernacular and the incredible views from her home. These are exhibited all over the world.

The project involved the design of an artist’s studio, a place of calm concentration that sat within this rural setting.

The tapestries are made from layers, areas of strong contrast, subtle changes in texture, proportion and staining of the fabric and DLM wanted to reflect this in the overall design of the building.

At the macro scale, the dark and refined elevation is sewn within the wild surrounding landscape, whilst up close, the varied width cedar cladding provides a subtle but playful layering and texture.

The outer mass of the studio is lined in blackened cedar, however openings and cuts are defined by retaining the natural material colour. Over time the entire envelope will weather into the landscape and become the backdrop to future layering.

In order to maximise the benefits of diffused natural light, but avoid direct sunlight that would bleach the fabrics, the architects developed large cavity sliding glazing that frames uninterrupted distant views, and provides a direct connection with the landscape whether open or closed.

The cantilevered soffit provides shelter and solar shade, allowing year-round enjoyment of the space, passive control to maintain the correct internal climate, and protection from the direct sunlight.

David De La Mare commented: “This was a lovely client to work for – one of the most appreciative I have ever met, and made all our hard work really worthwhile. It was a great project to work and went very smoothly from beginning to end with few problems – and the contractors loved it too. In fact all parties were very happy with the outcome.”

DLM Architects

Le Vieil Puit

In the Residential Renovation/ Extension (over £250k) category, this development, carried out by main contractors Rocks and Blocks Ltd, involved the re-design and extension of a farmhouse to meet modern living standards and maximise the potential of its location (the original building turned its back on the fine coastal views).

The new extension primarily adopts the footprint of a granite garage and relocates the driveway and parking to the eastern side of the farmhouse, providing generous space for an open-plan kitchen, dining and living area with stunning views across the west coast.

All material from excavation and demolition was utilised to build up the topography, providing a large level terrace to the south, with the granite being retained and used to construct the new extension.

The farmhouse was reconfigured, providing at first floor, a larger en-suite bedroom, a reading space and a master suite comprising dressing, bathroom and private balcony.

At ground floor, the circulation space was increased, with a cloakroom, utility and study in addition to the kitchen, dining, and living area.

The form and mass was influenced by the existing garage, and by introducing a cantilevered flat roof that appears to peel away from the gable, it was possible to maximise useable first floor area, whilst maintaining an unimposing and traditional face to the adjacent road.

A structurally glazed corner dissolves modestly beyond the heavy granite gable and provides fabulous panoramic views from the master suite. An inset balcony provides shelter and solar shade beneath a flat roof that rationalises the complex staggered roofline of the farmhouse.

The two storey glazed link below provides spacious circulation, natural light and views to areas that were previously compromised. It forms pockets between habitable rooms, and offers moments to pause and enjoy the view.

The structure is a hybrid of styles to provide the most cost-effective solution possible to integrate with the original building. External materials have been selected to respect the fabric of the existing building, but also respond to the exposed coastal location.

“This project was all about respecting the landscape and the design of the original farmhouse, but to maximize the incredible views available said David De La Mare, adding: “The main challenge was probably the budget and we put a lot of effort into working with the contractor to maximise this. The client was very happy with the result and the value added to the property.”

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