A River Runs Through it
TRADITIONALLY DESIGNED COTTAGES AND A FAMILY HOME ON THE BANKS OF A STREAM IN OXFORDSHIRE
THIS SMALL DEVELOPMENT OF FOUR NEW HOUSES IN A CONSERVATION AREA IS FOCUSSED AROUND A NEW APPLE ORCHARD AND COTTAGE GARDEN.
The site lies alongside a high street in a small village in Oxfordshire. Rather than build four small and narrowly spaced detached houses, the scale of the development was reduced and the existing building line strengthened by building a new terrace of three generous thatched cottages and a detached house. The homes are traditional in appearance and are influenced by the design and materials of a number of vernacular buildings that can be found in the village.
The new oak framed cottages are set back from the road. This reduces the impact of the development, allows generous front gardens to be planted and a new apple orchard to the rear be established. A shared parking court for eight cars is hidden out of sight at the rear. The cottages have combed wheat thatch on the roof, which is finished traditionally with a simple flush ridge and is fire-proofed underneath using the “Dorset Model” to minimise fire risk. The thatch also appears on the simple timber porches, which have built-in wooden seats to provide a place for chatting with neighbours and admiring the new gardens.
Internally, the ground floor has exposed timber rafters, boarded ceilings, and a traditional, handmade lime ash floor. Upstairs, there are sloping ceilings which contribute to the cosy feel of each cottage and a deceptively large amount of space- including built-in storage, two equally sized flexible rooms, a family bathroom and a large master bedroom with ensuite facilities.
A substantial two storey detached house has also been designed to act as a counterpoint to the cottages. This is a more formal, grander home which overlooks a stream at the southern edge of the site. Although simple in appearance it has been very carefully considered and the front facade uses elegant Georgian proportions. The sides and rear of the house are hidden from the street, and have wider openings and sliding timber doors onto a large brick terrace. Much of the character comes from the appearance and handmade quality of the orange-red bricks and its chequerboard pattern of flared grey headers. The roof is finished in similarly toned handmade clay tiles.
Inside the house, there is a triple aspect living room, a brick paved floored kitchen/diner, utility space, bathroom and a flexible, timber-panelled room which can be used as an additional bedroom or sitting room. There are three bedrooms upstairs, a family bathroom and two ensuite facilities. All rooms have traditional cornicing and painted panelling.
The planning and conservation officers were very supportive of the quality of the design and planning consent on this difficult site was obtained in less than four months. The homes will be completed and ready for occupation in 2020.