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Wealden Times Crossway May 09

Wealden Times Crossway May 09

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Published by Richard Hawkes

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Published by: Richard Hawkes on May 28, 2009
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Designed Living for

photographs DavidMerewether words Claire Tennant-Scull stylang LucyFleming



wife Sophichad given birth to their son Oscar.so it was quite understandable she shouldbe slightly lessengaged the that in intcrvicw.but this time, althoughit is Richardand Oscar(now wriggling and srriling) who meet me at the door, it is Sophie who takesme tround the houseand it is clear thtt shehas put her own creativestampon it too. The house is visible from some distanceat the moment. Richardhasplantedtreesto softenits impact.but they havenot yet come into leaf. so the shape this remarkable of building can bc clearly read.The most striking and talked-about featureis the vast clay rrch that spans width of the building and will the shortly be plantedup with native wild flowers and grasses to fbrm a "green"roof. One ofRichard'scentralideaswasthat thc houseshouldbe like a "hide" or an old-fashioned with camera, the glasswalled mastcr bedroom emerging from its "hood" likc a giant lens. Our first visit last year also camejust a few days aftcr Kevin McClnud and the Grawl Design.s term htd beenfilming. so it was interesting sec.when the programmewas broadcast to in previous pages the staircase soarsup overa terracotta archway in thehallwhile separate a dining roomprovides some formalty above a 1928 Corbusier classlc Le leather chaise-longue makes most the ofthe viewIn the sitting roomright the unclltttered kitchen viewsover has Inegar0en


presenter obviouslycaught March,thatthe famouslyhonest had and was greatlyimpressed. someof Richard'senthusiasm The couplc, too, are very happy with the finished house, though it may still change:flexibility was always part of the to design,the idea being that the housecould be adapted the family's changing needs. The ground-floor wetroom was with wheelchair access when the couple'sparents for designed got older and less active, or indeed for Richard and Sophie, in t!me.too. Many of Sophie's ideas were already incorporated in the design of the building, but it is in the interiorsthat she has rcally been able to exercise her creativeskills. Almost all the furniture has been newly purchasedbecausewhen the couple moved from their 16th century timbered house, they sold most of its contentstoo. "BecauseChannel4 were coming to film the momentthe building was finished,we had to order pieces befbrewe could actuallymove in," saysSophie. Severalthings have changedfor the couple since we last met. Richard lcft his job at a prestigiousLondon Last September llrm of architects and launched own practice.He has been his constantly seems ring fbr to busy ever sinceand the telephone

scaffolding lefl on the siaircase woodenhandrails the and recycled ropesfrom Chatham tubes are linkedto the steps by tensioned in has dockyard below the familybathroom, particular, the feel of a five-star hotel



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h inr c lur ingour v i s i t. S o p h i e .to o . h a s ch anged c c t io n . e a v i n uh e rj o b i n th e dir l City to considel nc\\' projects.onc of u hiih i. t o t Uf nh (.ri n l (re \l .rl t\l{ )b \l L )u \ tr lent f or int er io rd e \i g n i n l o a b u s i n e s s . We begin our t{)ur in the kilchcn. A quietlv nrodestspace.it is refieshingly I'ree ll ashygad-uets sintplt cles ned of and ig tor its purpose.Therc's a door to thc g af denandS oph i cte l l sme th a tth c v p l a n to createa lrcrbgiu-den a kincl0f circle in oi raiscclbeds arouDdthc house.So nor o nlv will it s upp l yth e k i tc l l e n .b L rti rl s o mark the edge of thc living spacc and the beginningof the norc meadowlike. wilder gardenandorchardbevonri. There is a delightfulgroup ol gnarledold apple tlccs k) one side. thtt the couple look parnsto prcscrvc. Sophiesar,s shc hnpes to ha\,c a clly oven thcre and a llblc beneath lrcesfbr inibrnralmeals. thc I notice thlrt alnlost cveq,Loom has a cloor lo tllc garclenanclyct. one ol tltc lnrin lcatures this houseis the idel that of
this page the lwo .pdre oeoroo'n< c dL a opposite endsofthe archtop the second spare Toomhas an en suite bathroom with an exka w de door that can be swungover to createa d vidingwallto add prvacy



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it shouldbe a kind of "air-tight" structure, leaking little or no heat into the atmosphere. How doesthat work if the doors are left open?"Oh. pcoplethink that we can neveropena window or door." laughs Sophie."The insulationis superb,so in the cdder monthsthere'svery little heat loss.but in the summer. there'sno rcasonwhy we can't have doorsand windows open. When the doors are shut. the air within the house is being mechanically changedall the time, so it's much fresherthan conventional homes.Really.the only reasonwe necd to keep the kitchen door shut is to preventour naughty French hens tiom coming inl" We enter the living room from the garden.Almost three sidesof this room are constructed glass.A classic 1928Le of Corbusierlcathcr chaise-longue makes the most of the view. There is a huge.modular sola coveredin dark brown hessian and on the wall aboveit. a photograph autumnalmapletrees of adds fiery reds and oranges. low, long sideboard A conforms to the cool, contemporary style.but the splashes hot colour of in the collection of 1960s orange Penguin paperbacks and ornamental glassware red addsa surprising notc of cosiness. Back in the hallway,the heightof the clay archis impressive, this page the master bedroom a bathwithin Thecouple has it. have preferring fallasleep no curtains, to looking thestars wake the at and to mornrng sunlight


but again, becauseof its colour, it f-eels warm and benevolent.At one end of the bow is Richard's study, where llles, axonometricdrawings and paper models testify to a busy working lit-e. This room could in future be opened up to the kitchen, te make one big family room. At the other end of the arch is t he dining r oom . T h e l a c t th a t th i \ i \ a :\eparate spaceis somethi{gof a .utprise but Sophiefeels in sucha modem house, that they have the best of both worlds. "I like the lact that we have a dramlrtic, dining space,but there are no dedicated doors to cut it ofT." Thc llooring on the ground level is the samethroughout. lt's a special product that Richard sourced from South East Coatingsin Faversham and is madeup of tiny piecesof recycled glass suspendedin resin. It is highly reflective, but unlike stone, is warm to the touch.



The curve of the stairs echoesthe main arch and the wooden handrails and recycled scaffolding tubes are linked to the steps by tensioned ropes from Chatham dockyard. Upstairs light floods in through the only north-facing window. Either side of it, smaller interior windows "borrow" light to illuminate the guest and family bathrooms. Richard was adamantthat he wanted really luxurious bathroomsand he hasn't compromised. The family bathroom, in particular, has the feel of a five-star hotel. The bath water cascades a faultless sheetfrom a wide in chrome tap and in one corner of the room an ivory leather chair adds to the feeling of a relaxing spa. "This chair is amazing," saysSophie,as shetransformsit into a full-length daybed.With the muted lighting and sheepskinrug on the floor, the invitation to relax is almost irresistible. There is a guest bedroom at either end of the roof arch, and one hasits own showerroom.At firstglance, the bedroom seems completely open to the landing, but then Sophie demonstrates one of the clever tricks of this house. The guest bathroom has an unusually wide door that swings acrossthe landing to seal off the space,thus creating a private suite. So fond of their ablutions are this couple that the master bedroom actually has a bathroom in it. "I like to talk to Richard when I'm in the bath," laughs Sophie. The couple once stayed thls page aerial viewsof theguestbed.ooms: is at oneandof the one roof archand anotheris at the opposite guest end right this second bedroom be divided can fromthe hallbythewidebathroom door


above Richafd's sludy right thehouse designed belikea hide' was to or an odjashoned camera, with the glass-wa master led bedroorn emergrng ts "hood'ikea g ant ens. from in a SouthAflican lodge with a liccstanding bath in thc roon) and tabulou5views of the vildernessbeyond.The experience was clearly a lbrmativeone. as here.too. they have vast floorto-ceiling windows. "There's so little light pollution that we can take advantagc the night skies."explrins Sophie."We of love to wake with the daylicht and go to sleeplooking at the starl.-' Whcn I wrote aboutthis houselast year.$e calledthe article Building thc Dreanr.lt's a bit corny.but it seems t'airto saythat we shouldnow revisethat to Lit,ing thc Drttutt. Ritharel's pnt.ject llds baen slrcrtlisterl for thc Grand Designs Awards09. GrandDesignsLlc is takingplete until 4 Md| at EtCcl London.To contact Ri<'lurdull 01580 895106or visit www.hawkesarchitecture.co.uk


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