Orchard House, Kent. 2018

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Set in a former orchard in Kent, Orchard House was designed for a retired couple as a place for living and writing, comfortable for two people but also able to accommodate large family gatherings. The brief stipulated a low maintenance lifetime home, full of light, embedded within the landscape, on a modest budget.

The dwelling replaced a dilapidated 1970s house in close proximity to an historic farmstead. Orchard House is re-sited to the middle of the sloping plot to provide a south facing orchard-garden, improved relationship with the woodland and privacy from the neighbouring properties. Planning was granted in May 2015.

The architectural strategy was to design a building that frames and heightens the experience of the surroundings, in the round, allowing for continual engagement with the natural environment, without a dominant orientation or view.

The house is composed of two intersecting volumes, stepped at each end to diminish the mass and splayed to follow the progression of sunlight through the day, capturing views in all directions.

Timber framed and clad, the house subtly echoes the farmstead and wider clapboard vernacular. The untreated vertical boarding will weather and patinate, further rooting the building in its woodland setting.

Open plan flexible living spaces are spread across the ground floor with more conventional cellular bedrooms and studies at 1st floor. Anchored by a curved steel and oak staircase, the two arms of the plan continuously converse with each other, ever visible from each part, with glimpses to the landscape beyond framed by the architecture.

Natural materials were selected reflecting the immersive surroundings; such as windows, doors and joinery in Douglas fir, floors of oak or blue limestone and Yorkstone paving.

Photography: Agnese Sanvito and Beasley Dickson Architects