The Times Newspaper Features The Design Journey of The Hide.
“Redesigning a rundown house in a beautiful spot means you can build something non-standard and exciting.” The Times newspaper features The Hide design journey and explores the planning experience and realisation of the new home. Below is the full design and build.
The Hide is a striking contemporary new home and a British Homes of the Year 2022 Finalist. It is the recipient of the Berkhamsted Design Excellence Environment Award and winner of BUILD’s South East Replacement Home Design Award 2021.
Our Clients’ Story, The Hide Design Journey.
A run down bungalow becomes a home of architectural merit with an industrial aesthetic.
When our clients found a farmer’s bungalow for sale on the outskirts of Berkhamsted overlooking a stunning valley in the Chiltern Hills, they eagerly awaited the open day. ‘We’d been wanting to settle in the area and had been looking for a property to downsize to for some time’ says Fiona our client, ‘This seemed an opportunity too good to miss’. When their grown-up daughter viewed it with them, confirming ‘Mum, you have to get this! ’ they put in a sealed bid and crossed their fingers. Luckily, they had called it right.
‘We soon realised the existing bungalow was un-rescuable due to its poor structural integrity’, says Fiona. Built into the hillside on a steeply-sloping site, it had few windows, which faced the road. She continues, ‘A replacement house meant we could build to a new design that would maximise the views. We were excited to create our own home.’
HollandGreen were delighted to take on the commission: the design of a contemporary, industrial-style family home with an immersive connection to the countryside, using materials locally sourced and built as sustainably as possible through the building’s envelope and insulation.
The Design Vision.
Together with our clients Fiona and Rod, we began reimagining every aspect of their dream new home, starting in sketch form. We were cognisant of some important planning considerations; situated in the greenbelt and an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), we needed to stay within the existing footprint and roofline of the previous bungalow.
We also needed to be sensitive to the Grade II* listed barn situated behind the plot, designing a home that spoke to its setting and using local materials which would give the building relevance to the area’s vernacular. Says Fiona, ‘The listed barn can be seen from the public footpath across the valley and so we couldn’t change or raise the previous bungalow’s roofline.’
Sketching enabled us to give thoughtful consideration to the dimensions and structural form; a 2-storey house that would be built into the side of the hill with a very discrete road-side elevation, in harmony with the listed barn alongside. From the other side would be double-height, floor-to-ceiling Crittall-style glazing and a burnt timber elevation, a strikingly beautiful and contemporary design with multilevel entrances creating a strong connection to the garden and countryside. Our designs included a raised car-port with garage storage below, and a west-facing upper terrace.
“When you enter the house and descend a staircase to a double-height window, you get a jaw-dropping view of the valley below.”
The 3D Model, Bringing The Hide to Life.
The Hide Design journey continues with building an interactive and immersive 3D model. This allowed Fiona and Rod to fully understand their home as the design evolved, while making sure the form and material palette would achieve the unique and sensitively considered aesthetic they wanted. ‘It was fantastic,’ says Fiona, ‘We were able to view the model on our ipads and walk around each of the rooms, looking out the windows, going up the stairs. It brought it to life in a way that flat 2D plans couldn’t. We made changes to the design that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen, such as recessing the gutters into the cladding, and changing the colour of the terrace roof.’
From render to reality & the material palette.
Visualisation technology was instrumental in the material choices to create the unique character and industrial style. Corten steel accents and Crittal-style windows are used to frame the countryside, while Chiltern red brick and black timber cladding provide a modern take on the traditional buildings in the local area, coming together during the design visualisation stage. Says Fiona, ‘Many people on their walks stop and compliment The Hide. It’s a modern build, but it’s as if it has always been here because of how it integrates so successfully with the local architecture and neighbouring listed barns. The CGI renders really helped us get this right.’
An upside down house, with living spaces on the ground floor.
The evolving designs put the living spaces on the ground floor, rather than having to walk up to them as is common in an upside down home. An entrance bridge to the front door with the house designed to be slightly away from its slope delivers more light to the lower level, so there is no sense of basement or lower-ground floor – the bedrooms are as naturally lit as those of the living spaces upstairs. Waist-height windows across the front elevation of the ground floor offer an openness through to the back views whilst still affording privacy.
The Interior Design.
Fiona and Rod wanted contemporary, light-filled rooms that would nevertheless be warm and relaxing. The Hide design journey takes on luxurious and functional interiors, using fixtures, fittings and bespoke pieces sourced locally, and wherever possible sustainably – very much to Fiona’s impeccable taste. ‘We love when dusk starts to fall and we turn on a few lamps,’ she says, ‘the house becomes so welcoming yet the night-time sky is still such a part of the picture.’
A key element to the eclectic Hide design journey is the Glulam roof structure that is modern whilst still comfortable in its surrounds. ‘We’re delighted the tie beams and bolts are left exposed in the interior design’ says Fiona, ‘This really adds to the industrial cottage aesthetic we wanted.’
The build 2 stage tender process
Collaborating with the main contractor Barr Build from the early design stages ensured construction to an incredibly high standard of quality and attention to detail. The 2-stage tender process meant Barr collaborated fully – client, architect and builder – a highly constructive triumvirate sharing knowledge and experience and bringing the very best together. It also maximised the planning phase, ensuring a carefully streamlined construction schedule.
Fiona says: ‘We were keen for The Hide to be as sustainable as possible and we’re delighted that the design specification and build techniques have brought The Hide very close to carbon neutral standards.’
“Their story is the antithesis of a Grand Designs episode; no disasters, sleepless nights or tears.”
‘We couldn’t be more delighted with our home. We love the height of the rooms, the light and the connection to the landscape. We sit and watch the deer, sheep and badgers race across the fields, it’s wonderful. If we didn’t enjoy living here so much, we’d be tempted by another design project!’
Fiona, our client