We were commissioned to refurbish a seventies house, built over three levels on a steeply sloping site. The house was originally accessed from the middle level, involving an entrance lowered from the pavement with a very dark, hidden front door and a slightly forbidding entry to the house. Upon entry there were further staircases and half landings taking you up to bedrooms, down to a living room and down further to a basement level. There was no sense of the large garden beyond the house, the surrounding countryside or the river running along the bottom of the garden.
Taking a fundamental approach to the organisation of the spaces, we moved all the bedrooms to the top level, with the best views and a new private balcony overlooking the garden, the living areas to the middle level, with a large open plan kitchen/dining/living room and some guest accommodation and a private gymnasium to the basement level. The entrance to the house was moved to the top level, with anew bridging element constructed to allow access directly from the pavement. A new central staircase was also introduced, providing a double height space within the entrance lobby with roof lights above, which would link all three levels as well as providing light throughout the house. Externally, a new staircase was built linking the living spaces on the middle level directly to the deck at garden level.
The external materials of the house had been very dark timbers and an almost black feature stone with white joints. All of this was overclad or re-built with a combination of Scottish larch cladding and white render. This also allowed the opportunity to introduce insulation to the external skin where there had previously been none.