Thinking Buildings do not have an in-house architectural style but rather our designs, whether traditional or contemporary, have been carefully developed to consider the surrounding context and to suit the clients brief.
This new-build detached house is located in the conservation area close to a Grade 1 listed church and adjacent to a local building of significance. We chose a design that is compatible with the appearance, character and scale of the existing dwellings in the village to help integrate it into the historic surroundings and respect its setting. The scheme promotes the use of traditional building materials to maintain the local vernacular and utilises historic features that are predominant in the village, such as local ironstone with ashlar stone detailing and raised stone parapet gables with a steeply pitched slate roof.
As a practice, we try not to impose or develop a single aesthetic to our projects but design what is appropriate for the circumstance with an aim of achieving a scheme that has high-quality design, proportion and materials.
This site is in open countryside near Tonbridge in Kent. The client approached us to design a new 2-bed house for use as a holiday let, replacing some existing disused barns on the site. The site is within the green belt and therefore a potentially contentious location where appearance of the building is critical.
Our proposal is for a very simple linear plan, clad in untreated timber with a pitched slate roof to make a very traditional barn form building. In contrast the openings and glazing in the building have a far more modern approach. Large scale asymmetric openings on the south face open out onto the terrace to provide a strong connection to the outside. These are shaded by steel framed timber shutters and louvres, articulated as separate to the main from of the building. The east end of the building has been pushed in to provide a protected area of terrace and shade the full glazing to the gable end, while maintaining the clarity of the barn shape.
This project is still moving through the planning process but the aesthetic attitude we have taken on the site has been well received by the local authority.
A significant number of our projects are in sensitive rural areas. It’s wonderful to be working in such beautiful environments (and it makes site visits an absolute joy!) but it can be a challenge to produce modern architecture fitting of that context. Planning departments can be conservative and often a low key, traditional approach can mean a lower risk of planning refusal. The opportunity to work with clients with the desire to build more modern buildings is great, but requires a careful negotiation with what is acceptable to the local authority.
Recently we’ve been exploring this idea of “rural” and “modern” in a number of projects in the office. We’ve been using traditional shapes and natural materials, but looking for a play of volume, window proportions and sharpness in the execution that brings a real contemporary take on the vernacular without jarring against the expectations of local authorities and neighbours. These are a selection of images that we think exemplify the best kind of “rural modern.”