Like all our clients, Assad and Lisa wanted to create their perfect home – the only problem was that their ideas of a perfect home couldn’t be more different. Assad craved countryside and contemporary architecture, Lisa loved classic buildings and London living.
To convince Lisa of his vision, Assad needed a site of undeniable beauty complimented by a cutting edge design. It would also need to fit around family life – they had one child already with another on the way.
Assad’s infectious enthusiasm and demand for the latest and greatest design and technology would fuel one of our most ambitious projects, but could the peace of rural life really replace urban convenience?
Assad found the ideal site, but its greatest asset was also its greatest challenge: it was nestled in the middle of the High Weald Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty. Planning approval on an AONB is rarely granted for fear of having the landscape tarnished.
This was evident from the site’s troubled past. A poorly designed and poorly located bungalow wasted the potential of the site, yet the numerous applications to replace it had either failed or never progressed past the construction stage.
The High Weald is characterised by firmly traditional rural architecture. The community and the planning officers had never encountered contemporary design in their area, so we would have to tread very delicately to avoid them putting their foot down on Assad’s plans.
Luckily, Assad's insistence on green construction let us push the bar for sustainable, efficient design. Roof top solar panels, ground source heat pumps and ecological improvements to the site pushed the build to Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes – more than meeting the council's demands.
But all of this would be for nothing if they thought the house was an eye-sore. We moved the location of the site further back from the road than the existing bungalow, and even achieved a reduced footprint and height, despite increasing floor space by expanding subteraneously.
The new build is less visible but far more worth seeing. A clean, assymetrical white frame wraps around floor to ceiling glass on the ground floor, while the lower ground floor – partially concealed by the sloping terrain – is clad in local Tunbridge Wells stone.
Inside is just as striking. The ground floor boasts luxurious open plan spaces that can be adapted into more intimate rooms thanks to concealed pocket doors. Family life will be generously supported by a top of the line kitchen and pantry, dining, living and play rooms, along with – essential for Assad – the wine cellar.
Nestled on the floor below are five bedrooms, allowing the family to grow and guests to feel at home. Despite being partially below ground, the design utilises the open side of the slope to provide every bedroom with plentiful natural light.
The local council and the surrounding community was convinced, but most importantly Lisa was too. The happy couple are now enjoying family life in one of the most sustainable, beautiful and advanced homes in the country.