Rowley Cottage

Client: Private

Rowley Cottage sits at the end of White Lane, two miles from the centre of Guildford. The site is elevated with an open aspect to the south.

The design arose out of detailed discussions with the client and their desire to combine local distinctiveness with contemporary elements. The starting point was the importance of the view and the desire to place the main living spaces at a point on the site that would optimise the outlook. The idealised location became a generator, expressed in the design as a pavilion set on a plinth to which other elements are attached.

Our inspiration was the casual grouping of farm buildings in the locality. Their fragmented yet cohesive quality seemed a good model for a dwelling in this location. The result is a building with two wings and a light-weight glazed link which marks the entrance. There is a deliberate relationship with the existing residential stable block and the rest of the house, and it is conceived as one use and one composition. The plan is organised so that the existing building forms the fourth side of an entrance courtyard.

Although the site is south facing, its elevated position means that it is exposed, and we were therefore asked to consider a form that could both take advantage of the view and create sheltered areas. The living room is therefore pushed out while the adjoining wings are set back to give sheltered corners to the east and west of the south facing side of the house.

Chimneys are treated as sculptural elements with carefully placed windows suggesting an interplay of mass and light. They mark the limits of the house and their strong vertical emphasis acts as a foil to the dominant horizontal characteristics of the house.

The orientation of the new dwellings enables a high degree of passive solar gain which significantly reduces the heating load. Windows are designed to provide a good level of natural daylight, reducing energy demand for lighting. All internal light fittings were low energy lights, using tubular fluorescent, compact fluorescent and LED lamps.

The design of the house was linked to extensive landscaping and a scheme, designed by Churchman Landscape Architects, which successfully negotiates the steep terrain.