Wolden Haus, Renacres Lane
The house designed and project managed by BYA Architects, sits in a rural setting on the fringes of the village of Halsall in West Lancashire some 15 miles North of Liverpool City Centre.
The requirement to meet the needs of the extended family who live abroad for important family occasions and make some provision for the clients advancing years was additional to the fundamental requirements that the design should embrace the countryside in which the house was set, taking advantage of the unobstructed views on all sides , preserving as much of the mature gardens as possible, ensuring that the property was eco friendly in reducing carbon emissions and fuel use and also for the design to minimise its visual impact. The site is visible along a well used local traffic route and it was important that the proposal was welcomed by the local community by taking its natural place in the evolution of the area.
Flexibility was also an important part of the design, arising from the need to comfortably change from a two person to a ten person house on family occasions.
The allocation of space, therefore, needed to reflect use in proportion to its intensity of use so that short term use should be reflected in the space allocation and spaces generally needed to be capable of multiple use. The transition between house and garden needed to be undelineated.
The design of an eco friendly home formed part of the desire for the house to respect its natural surroundings and public consultation with the local parish council proved successful when the principles behind the design were explained.
In order to obtain an independent professional view on the design, the scheme was submitted to Places Matter who carried out a desk top design review of the scheme which encouraged a slightly more radical approach to the siting of the house.
Proposals were verified by 3D representations set against site photographs. The submitted scheme was approved on appeal on the 16th June 2009.
The Design Solution
The property took the form of a modern flat roof pavilion on two levels with single storey flat roof outriggers and spine walls extending from inside the house into the surrounding landscaped areas. Materials sympathetic with the surrounding soft landscape were used to form building elements including buff/ grey brick, natural mortar and western red cedar boarding.
The approach to the property (which frames the view along the approach road which skirts the site) continues along the line of the road as a curved driveway leading to the entrance via a pergola which is supported by a garden wall which continues into the house. This wall acts as a privacy screen to the rear garden.
The intimate entrance lobby leads into the light filled main body of the house in which is located an oak clad steel floating staircase leading to the first floor. Ground floor rooms radiate from this space and each space leads on to it’s respective garden area.
The central study space to the first floor enjoys views through the two storey height lounge towards the farm fields to the South and West and through the screen of trees adjoining the approach road to the East. The corner lounge and bedrooms which are accessed through this space enjoy elevated views over the arable farmland.
The property needed to be of steel frame construction due to the need to preserve openness of internal layout, to allow for clerestory windows, substantial overhanging to eaves and large areas of glazing. A timber frame solution could not accommodate these requirements.
In order to achieve low ecological impact the property was sited on the footprint of an existing bungalow and hard standing area allowing all existing trees and shrubs to remain. The additional screen of silver birch was planted immediately after purchase of the site in 2007 and adjoins the approach road. These enhance the ecological value of the site.
The construction reflected the need to deliver the project in a way which respected the environment in the selection and sourcing of materials and energy conservation as part of achieving Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4. Site storage and accommodation utilised the existing garage (which was later demolished) together with existing outbuildings. Material and equipment movement was along the lines of existing retained hard standings.
Careful management of the site ensured that virtually all shrubs and trees were retained. Foundations of retainers were modified to preserve existing trees. Drainage systems including rainwater harvesting were confined to turfed areas. The existing ponds were protected throughout the works and pond life preserved.
Energy saving measures includes triple glazing, solar PV, MVHR and external wall construction with U values of 0.2w/m²k. Underfloor heating took advantage of the heat store qualities of the structure to provide a more energy efficient heating solution.
The property was awarded Secured by Design certification for inclusion of security measures (CCTV, alarms and PAS 24 locks) as a part of achieving Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4.
Construction was commenced in May 2011 and completed in January 2012 at a cost of £410,000 for 3,110 sq. ft. of built area.