House – Sussex

House – Sussex

This elegant house stands on a ridge in Sussex looking out over the South Downs, whose distant hills are reflected in the undulating surfaces of the cross-laminated timber (CLT) roof.

This elegant house stands on a ridge in Sussex looking out over the South Downs, whose distant hills are reflected in the undulating surfaces of the cross-laminated timber (CLT) roof. Its clean modern lines and muted palette of materials have generated a tranche of awards including a Regional and National RIBA Award, for which the citation reads:

“A lack of decoration and ornament gives this modern house a functional feel, but one that is cleverly considered to the very last detail”. Internally the double-height void and staircase orchestrate the house effortlessly, organising a contiguous open-plan and cellular spaces into a simple but elegant arrangement. The oversailing first floor produces the feeling of a quiet monastic cloister with sun-filled spaces and carefully framed views”.

Designed by Wilkinson King Architects, the house replaces a 1950s cottage and is a country retreat for its London-based owners. “The clients were passionate about creating a contemporary building that truly engages with and responds to the rural landscape, using materials that are natural and sit well in this context” explained architect Julian King.

Although it occupies a 12 hectare site, the design was constrained by the requirement to maintain the original residential curtilage including its height. The main entrance lobby of the house opens to a double-height hall / reception space which rises to the roof, an origami-like series of folded timber planes, while its glazed walls frame the magnificent view. To one side is an enclosed en-suite master bedroom; to the other side is a large open plan living / dining / kitchen, with floor to ceiling glazed walls. They are shaded by the overhanging first floor, supported at the perimeter by a series of light steel columns. From the reception a timber staircase rises to the first floor, where a generous landing / corridor space acts as a study and leads to three bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom within a timber enclosure. The landing and bedrooms are all set beneath the folding planes of the CLT roof which is inset with large triangular rooflights, creating a dynamic pattern of light and shade.

The staircase has a metal frame and is clad with spruce to match the CLT panels. The treads are open and cantilevered to make the staircase as transparent as possible. Externally the first floor is clad with a rainscreen of cedar boards. The windows are fitted with horizontal louvered shutters which slide behind the cedar boards; the shutters shade the windows from unwanted solar gain in summer and allow the lower winter sun to warm the interior. The first floor is lined with oiled engineered oak floorboards.

More case studies

In 2015, the architectural practice Squire and Partners purchased a dilapidated three storey department store in the centre of Brixton.

In 2019 an explosion of colour appeared on the sedate lawn of Dulwich Picture Gallery. It was the Colour Palace, a timber pavilion painted in exuberant geometric patterns and stripes in a kaleidoscope of zinging neon colours.