Admirable winner of the Best Individual New Home category of the LABC South West Awards 2019 is Dar Gwenen, in Brenton Road, Downderry, Cornwall.
A unique and beautiful home, Dar Gwenen combines beautiful architecture, excellent energy performance and creative interior design with a wide variety of construction techniques.
It is set in a stunning coastal location with uninterrupted 180 degree sea views in the far southeast of Cornwall.
The project, carried out in consultation with Cornwall Council, was undertaken by main contractors Doyle & Whitley Ltd, together with Harrison Sutton Architects and PCA Consulting Engineers.
The stunning interior design was created by Marie Hewitt Interiors.
The architects produced a full set of detailed building regulations drawings and gained LABC approval for them prior to commencement of work on site.
These, in addition to an expansive set of constructional drawings, structural engineers’ drawings and detailed plans and a series of pre-commencement meetings between architect, client and contractor to ensure budget suitability, meant that all details of the build had been considered at length before the build process got underway.
Throughout the duration of the project, the building control officer was invited back at the stages he had requested to see and these were signed off in a timely manner.
The building is structured in a combination of materials including cast concrete, steel frame, timber frame, blockwork and sheet metalwork.
From a construction point of view, the aspect of the build that proved most challenging was the number, location and varying degrees of curved elements.
Some were part of the supporting structure of the build, including steel reinforced curved cast concrete cantilevered colonnade walls, which required customised shuttering to be built and re-bar specially bent.
Some were more cosmetic – for example, every external corner of the block outer skin (including window reveals) had to be rounded to a 75mm radius curve, necessitating the use of task specific dust extracting when grinding to shape, and radius specific trowels to apply the thin-coat render system – both designed and fabricated on site by the contractor.
Many of the internal corners of the rooms inside were also curved, meaning the skim finish had to be applied in large continuous panels and that the skirting had to curve also; for which sheet zinc was used.
Another challenge was the two storey spiral cast concrete staircase in the centre of the house.
The solution to this was a modular approach where a central steel pole was installed as a guide, with each individual pre-cast tread and boss being lowered over this.
These were supported either by blockwork below or by cantilevering, using the weight of those treads above (confirmed by the engineer) and grouted into place.
Dar Gwenen has achieved a mid ‘B’ rating on its EPC with a value of 85% efficient. This was made possible by its 4star efficiency rating for air permeability (4.4m3/h.m2)
According to the clients: “Working closely with architects and engineers, the build has been skilfully executed. Attention to detail and artistic flair (interiors and exteriors) has succeeded in making our new home the stunning building it is.
“Dar Gwenen is unique and has been admired by many. We have been delighted by the whole experience.”