Elliott Architects has designed a series of interlinked spaces, separated by small courtyards, that make for a sophisticated home of surprising scale and complexity
RIBA National Award winner 2023
Elliott Architects for private client
Contract value: Confidential
An unassuming, modest approach leads to a sophisticated building of surprising scale and complexity. A series of interlinked composed spaces that are separated by small courtyards make for a very bespoke home. The building sits in the former grounds of an existing larger property and develops the previous walled tennis court.
The constrained site could have restricted the house, making it feel compromised. Instead, the skilful use of multiple small courtyards brings light and aspect to each room and allows each to be distinct and characterful. As a consequence, the house feels rich and diverse without this detracting from the overall consistency.
As admirers of all things modernist, the clients for Hushh House wanted a practical and stylish home for themselves and their much-loved art and furniture. The site, accessed by a narrow lane and having boundaries with 11 neighbours, posed some challenges in design and construction.
The clients’ overriding concern was how light would be introduced into a building that would be surrounded by existing walls, hedges, and steeply banked woodland. However, architects Lynsey and Ben Elliott responded with clever design. The house is concealed from the view of neighbours and the public and is playful, yet quiet.
The design responds to the site’s inward-looking constraints with a strong, simple approach: a series of courtyards, a raised garden, a central gallery, and a secret reading room. The gallery is also the central circulation node – not hidden away, but celebrated and in everyday use as a way of moving through and connecting the spaces. The reading room, however, is hidden and provides a ‘hush’ space, looking through the plants on the rooftop garden.
The use of local sandstone to match the predominant material of the village creates a house that essentially becomes a secluded walled garden, sitting beneath the beds of flowers above. The pop-up gallery and reading room elements use Cumbrian slate to reflect the typical village context at roof level.
Lead and copper mining form an important part of the local history, with copper and iron slag blocks visible in the sandstone walls around the village. The design, therefore, uses metals in order to connect to the village’s past, with lead copings and the careful use of weathering steel to reference the richness of the metals, most notably to the screen doors on the east elevation, the kitchen volume, and the front door.
Visitors are taken on a journey as they pass through the home. Central to this is a disorientating double-height gallery through which you pass to get to the heart of the house, the kitchen and dining area, and on to the walled garden. Moving through from the entrance to the garden you experience increased levels of privacy and seclusion, which provide an overarching sense of security and calm.
Everything about the house is considered and thoughtful. The stone and Corten steel walls are robust and help provide a sense of permanence. This is a forever home – well-detailed, bespoke, and built masterfully with real craftsmanship. A very sophisticated and enthralling house.
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