Hampshire-based Ström Architects has completed The Quest, a private house that replaces a bungalow built in 1917 in Swanage, UK. The clients wanted a house for their retirement, but with a keen interest in design and a love of abstract and modern art, it needed to eschew the usual trappings of staid, retirement home design.
The site is heavily wooded and sloping, enjoying a beautiful southerly aspect with a view over the Durlston Country Park.
The brief was to make the most of the views while minimising the impact on the sensitive scenic location. To simplify the planning process and maintain the original property’s modest presence, architect Magnus Ström chose to match the height of the old house but rotate the plan to improve views through the surrounding trees.
The sloping site – with protected mature trees – very much dictated the positioning of the dwelling. Access is via the front of the property to the South, so Ström Architects made use of a retaining wall faced in local Purbeck stone, to define different levels and visually mask the vehicular route, maintaining a clear view from the living spaces across the valley.
The house cantilevers over the retaining wall to deal with the level changes and views, and creates a sheltered undercroft parking area. The large cantilever has been achieved through two concrete planes: the floor and roof acting together like a space beam. The concrete structure is then in-filled with simple timber drylining, leaving the concrete frame visible externally.
Internally, a large open-plan kitchen-dining-living area occupies the centre of the plan, with a covered terrace spanning its length and giving a sheltered outdoor area overlooking the Southern views. To the Eastern end of the house sits the guest accommodation and studies, with the master suite sitting within the cantilevered Western end of the house.
A simple interior palette of Purbeck stone flooring, a concrete hearth and engineered timber flooring, provide echoes of the external materials – waterproof concrete slabs and untreated larch cladding.
all images © Martin Gardner