Houzz Tour: A Beautiful New Build in Suffolk With Spectacular Views
Environmentally friendly features and a link with the land were the top priorities for this house built on a former pig farm in Suffolk
‘We tried to create a sense of being in this very specific site and the feeling of being completely immersed in it,’ says Charles Barclay, lead designer on the project. ‘When you’re inside the house, you’re almost camping on the land itself, rather than being tucked away in a dark cottage.’
The bungalow isn’t only designed to make the most of the spectacular environment, it also respects it, and has several clever structural and design features – including hidden solar panels and a 4m-long sliding timber screen to reduce heat loss – that keep its energy consumption low.
Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here The homeowner and her large, extended family, who visit frequently
Location A former pig farm in Southwold, Suffolk
Size 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms; 200 sq m on 7.5 hectares
Completed 2012 after 7 months of work; won the RIBA regional award in 2013
Total cost £2,000 per sq m, or £400,000 in total
Architect Charles Barclay of Charles Barclay Architects
That’s interesting There were long-eared bats living in the original barn, so an outbuilding (the ‘bat house’) had to be built a year in advance of work starting on the main house to give them a suitable new habitat
On the southern side the house is a horizontal ribbon of large windows to make the most of the views and orientation. The ceilings in the living rooms and master bedroom slope upwards towards the windows to take in the landscape and sky for that sense of being in the countryside.
Walls painted in White, Dulux. W40 galvanised steel windows, West Leigh. Sliding door, Fineline Aluminium.
‘The owner likes the industrial look, so rather than having it concealed, she wanted it all on view, but she didn’t want kilns or other paraphernalia. The idea was to enjoy the house in the setting it’s in, and not focus on its furniture or fixtures.’
The fireplace sits on a concrete plinth, which acts as a heat sink: the concrete absorbs the heat when the fireplace is on, and keeps the warmth going for longer after the stove has gone out.
Fireplace, Brisach. All furniture, homeowner’s own.
The dining area has a dual outlook: one towards the pond (seen above, right) and the other across the terrace to the far corner of the field (above, left).
Dining table and chairs, homeowner’s own.
Kitchen units, Howdens. Grohe Starlight tapware; Siemens appliances, all Hyde Park Bathrooms & Kitchens.
‘When there’s a cold east wind, the site is exposed with very little protection. The screen increases insulation and reduces heat loss, especially at night. It makes the place feel more cosy.’
Discover 8 more commonly used retrofit techniques for making your home ecofriendly
The external walls are black-stained soft pine. ‘They are super-insulated panels (SIPs), which we used for insulation and structure,’ says Barclay. ‘They are a sandwich of rigid insulation between wood particle board on either side, so there are hardly any cold bridges. Essentially, the building is a well-insulated, airtight envelope.’
‘The steel-framed windows are modern versions of the Crittall windows of the 1930s,’ he adds. ‘We did this deliberately, because the owner used to stay at a holiday house where there were Crittall windows. She loved them and wanted them in her own house. We used a W40 glaze, so together with the insulation in the walls, there’s no problem with condensation.’
The slim frames mean there’s minimum interruption to the view.
The roof overhangs provide shade in summer so the rooms don’t overheat; they also allow low sunlight in during the winter to warm the house. ‘It’s all part of the eco strategy,’ says Barclay.
Tour another low-energy home embedded into its habitat
‘Having a second sitting room also means that if there are any children staying, they have their own place to hang out without disturbing the adults,’ Barclay says. ‘There’s a sliding door that opens onto the field, so they can rush out without causing a ruckus. It gives the guest wing a degree of autonomy, even though it’s connected to the main wing.’
Tolomeo standing lamp, Artemide. All other furniture, homeowner’s own.
Stove, Cove range by Charnwood.
Glo-Ball pendant light by Flos, available at John Lewis. Cupboards, Howdens.
‘We put bat nesting boxes and droppings in the outbuilding, but they had to be dragged kicking and screaming from the old barn into the new building. It was a huge effort,’ says Barclay. ‘There must be a new habitat nearby that suits them, but they still come in the summer and hunt around the pond. What we’ve learnt is that you can follow the advice of experts, but nature won’t necessarily go for it!’
What do you think of this environment-focused bungalow? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.