Imagine making your home in a beautiful property that affords access to the most tranquil setting imaginable. An emerald lawn sweeps down to a picturesque waterfront where the trailing branches of English willows dip their leaves into the water and wild birds’ nest in the shade of their canopies. It’s the perfect spot to moor a boat, enjoy a picnic and doze in the sun while dragonflies shimmer and bees drone. Riverside living is a dream that we’ve helped realise for families in enviable locations around Oxford, London and the Home Counties.
Our designs are carefully crafted to capture the essence of our clients’ vision, delivering homes that make the most of their setting and delight. We love working on riverside properties – designing a house on the waterfront is an exciting challenge that, despite some of the associated complexities, sparks exceptional results.
Perfecting the vision
Although a riverside setting forms a wonderful backdrop to a contemporary home, building a home that celebrates its location without overwhelming the site’s natural beauty, or adversely impacting nearby homes and amenities, requires both creativity and expertise. We’ll consider the dwelling’s proximity to the river and how the natural landscape can be integrated into the plans. Our landscape designers will be involved from the earliest stages so we can fully understand the topography and maximise its potential.
Planning for success
Riverside plots have to be handled tactfully – especially if they’re situated within Conservation Areas or close to Listed Buildings where development is more tightly controlled. Our recent plans for the redevelopment of a dated Thames-side house challenged us to create a contemporary home whilst respecting the site’s broader context within a row of more traditional dwellings. Even views from across a river towards the site can be potentially sensitive and need to be assessed. Ecology is always a key consideration as the river and surrounding landscape may be a natural habitat for protected species.
The closer the building is located to the waterfront or more exposed the plot, the more likely the design of a riverside house will be judged on its impact on the local area and the existing natural and built environment. This doesn’t mean that only traditional building styles reflecting the local vernacular are successful – ambitious contemporary designs can be a triumphant addition to the riverscape, providing they enhance the setting.
The River House in Sutton Courtenay is a prime example of how strikingly modern design can work in a riverside setting and provide a stunning counterpoint to the neighbouring properties. This simple, yet unapologetically contemporary pavilion-style home sits comfortably in its surroundings, offering tempting vistas across the river and beyond. The low-profile roofline helps the house to complement – rather than dominate – its surroundings, whilst sitting the house on piled foundations gives it the effect of it floating over the meadow.
Managing flood risk
Any property situated alongside a river is likely to be considered at risk of flooding (‘Flood Risk Zone 3’ as defined by the Environment Agency). A strategic flood risk assessment enables us to understand the site better at the outset and helps us to create a design that manages and mitigates flood risk at the earliest stages of a design proposal. It will also help determine the types of materials suitable for external fittings and finishes – for instance, the use of pool light fittings in low-level or recessed settings offers a proven waterproof lighting solution.
Riverside living also provides an exciting opportunity to integrate sustainable technologies that benefit the environment and help minimise utility bills. Water management strategies can be deployed to reduce water usage, while passive heating and cooling systems can improve ambient comfort levels, at the same time as significantly reducing running costs.
Our designs for the contemporary Thames-side house include a range of sustainable features including a rainwater harvesting system, PV panels, air source heat pumps and exceptional levels of insulation to create a low-impact, energy-efficient home for current and future occupants to enjoy.
Making dreams of waterfront living come true
No two dreams are the same, but the desire to live in a riverside home is one that’s shared by many. Whether you are looking for your dream plot or already live in a riverside property, our team of architects, interior and landscape designers are ready to capture your brief in a tailored design that will make the most of the waterfront setting while preserving the natural beauty of its surroundings. Get in touch to discover how we could help you to take the first steps to your ideal home.