The large suburban plots of Amersham, at the end of the Metropolitan Underground line, were set out in the 1930s, encouraging the idea of a daily commute to a sanctuary home away from the smog and bustle of central London. Today the ‘30s houses are fiercely protected, with any departure from imitative Arts and Crafts form and detail frowned upon by the local authority and its planning committee. We found a way to create a modern house by expressing construction and material qualities, and by pulling the house into three parts, cracking open the roof to pour light into the heart of the home. This is a house that responds to microclimate and its garden setting.
Before we had designed anything, we noticed that the family already had a favourite place in the garden, a place where the west sun swept round behind the north-facing frontage. By sliding the living room wing back into the garden we were able to catch this afternoon and evening sunshine.
Free corners frame views out to the garden, allowing the family to connect to their garden and the tall trees of the street. Daylight from high clerestories in the split gable design cuts deep into the central hallway. Glimpses of changing weather and sky follow the family as they go about their day.
Overlapping voids and double-height pine walls form playful volumes so the living spaces flow together, making for a fun and sociable home. Indeed, in the first few months of moving in the children have had more friends over than the last few years in their previous home. While the main living rooms allow the family to easily connect with each other, mezzanine floors create areas for retreat with views back over the whole. Outside, the house is grounded with a local brick base, beneath a timber and glass recessed middle, and a sweeping tile roof, in the true spirit of Amersham’s Arts and Crafts tradition.