Site description and Location
Church Road is situated on the south side of Vicarage Road in a long-established residential community to the south east of Pitstone village center. The application site extends to 0.13 hectares (0.33 acres) approx. and is a regular shape. It is the largest single plot in the street. To the southeast is countryside and the Church. To the southwest is a collection of detached and semi-detached dwellings, to the northwest is a row of detached dwellings.
Project Name: Church Road
Studio Name: AA+D Atelier Architecture+Design ltd
There are a cluster of more modern houses at 90° reached via the lane to the church flanking the southwest boundary of the plot (17a, 17 & 19). The former garages have been removed and the overgrown landscaped area to the rear cleared. The mature tree to the SE end of the plot has been retained.
The existing Town Planning approval (ref: 10/01625) provides two detached dwellings with a combined width of 19m and a depth of 18.5m. The current proposal provides a single dwelling with a width of 15m and a depth of 20m. The two storey elements of 10/01625 are 19m wide and 16m deep. The two storey elements for the current proposals are 11m wide and 10m deep; the remainder of the depth is single storey and sunk 1m into the slope of the land. The ridge height of 10/01625 is 8.25m whilst the current proposal ridge height is 7.8m. Therefore, the current proposals reduce the size and bulk of the existing approval providing a generous gap of more than 3m to the boundaries on either side.
The current proposal provides one large house rather than two. The size of the proposed dwelling is greater than that of individual houses in the street. However, to reduce its impact on the character of the street the form has been broken down into separate elements and articulated. The roof form at the front is broken into three elements suggesting two properties. The roofs have been pitched over the narrow span and the two main bays either side of the central circulation spine have been staggered so as not to protrude beyond the 45° line (drawn from the horizontal plane) from the neighbouring habitable windows. Like the staggered form of the approved design this helps to protect the privacy and amenity of both existing and future residents.
The proposal is a contemporary design that uses a marriage of traditional materials of brick and mortar to maintain a local sense of identity on the exterior which encases an airtight closed panel timber frame system with highly insulated walls and roof making the house a sustainable construction with very low energy heating requirements.
Church Road has a varied mix of properties reflecting architectural styles of the last century and a half. As there is no strong pattern of house type or appearance it was felt appropriate that this proposal should reflect certain traditional elements whilst being confident to depart from any strict vernacular interpretation. This is particularly the case in the bold articulated roof form and in the vertical windows on the front elevation that terminate beneath the roof structure.
Geometery and Proportion
The proposal uses geometry and golden section proportion to achieve balance and underlying order in the layout. This gives the building a sense of place, ‘a right to be’ in the landscape. It is best demonstrated in the following diagrams: –
By striking a line from the outside corner of the front of No.11 to the outside corner of the front of No.11a (on either side of the proposal) a right angle is created with a second line that strikes across the rear garden and fields to the centre of the church. A spine of circulation for the new dwelling is formed loosely around this axis. This ‘macro’ geometry is then reflected in the micro scale of the lounge on the ground floor whose orientation is inflected on this axis of the church. This has the added benefit of widening the external courtyard bringing in more sunlight, expanding the view and encouraging greater interaction of inside outside space.
The core of the building has been generated by a series of interlocking squares and a golden section rectangle. See the Micro diagram below. The golden section rule of proportion is an ancient order used for centuries in art and architecture. It relates to nature and the human form.
It explains why we sometimes get a ‘feeling’ that something looks right without necessarily understanding why.
The principle of a more traditional front and contemporary rear is applied in the use of materials.
The building is clad in traditional materials with the front and side walls prominent to neighbours and passers-by faced in London ‘Gaunt’ brick or ‘Warboys Blend Imperial’ (the closest matches to ‘Cheddington yellows’) and off white / grey render. Examples of ‘Cheddington Yellow’ and ‘London Gaunt’ brick can be seen locally. At No.3 Church Road the ‘Gaunt’ brick sits comfortably against the original ‘Cheddington’ in a recent extension. A wide range of white and cream colour renders are used throughout the local area and indeed 75% of the houses on Vicarage Road have some form of render. The front elevation also provides wall areas that predominate over openings, and windows that have a vertical emphasis. The tall windows finished in powder coated aluminium that terminate beneath the roof suggest a contemporary aesthetic, but their impact is softened with a timber screen clad over the top of the windows. In this way whilst being contemporary the proposals still compliment local identity and tradition.
At the rear which is more private the walls are clad in larch timber respecting natural materials. There is also extensive modern glazing around the courtyard that enhances the interaction of inside outside space and the contemporary aesthetic.
The majority of the roofs in this proposal run perpendicular to the frontage and do not face directly onto the street; they will be clad in a modern eco designed material which is 100% recyclable, compatible with rainwater harvesting and can enable the simple integration of renewable technologies in line with forthcoming legislation. The material is matt grey colour coated pre-finished steel which is 100% recyclable with 25% recycled steel content designed to reflect heat away from the building. The joints will be to a simple standing seam detail. Unlike many manufactured roofing materials, the colour will not degenerate and can be matched to natural slate colour.
The levels of the site and their relationship to the public highway have been considered to provide a level approach to the front door for wheelchair users. Circulation space, doors and the ground floor bathroom will all comply with the Building Regulations for wheelchair access.
A secure single garage is attached to the RHS of the new dwelling and set back. There are also two parking bays provided, one on each side of the property that are set back and partially hidden, thereby reducing their impact when approaching the entrance of the building and when viewed from the street. Secure cycle storage will be provided within the garage. Refuse bin and recycling facilities will be sited sensitively towards the rear on the LHS of the building adjoining the Utility room.
Landscaping will be provided to enhance the proposal. There will be additional planting to the side and rear boundaries with indigenous hedging. The existing hedge on the front boundary
Is in poor condition and will be replanted. A new crossover will be created on the LHS of the frontage. This will enable a bow shaped driveway leading to and from the front door. The driveway surface will be shingle as is seen in some of the adjoining properties in the street. The space in the centre of the bow and to the outer extremities on the LH & RHS’s will be left over to grass or herbaceous borders. This will be the subject of a detailed landscaping scheme prepared by specialists and submitted for approval.