A sinuous brick ‘wall house’ by Richard Parr Associates has won planning permission on a Green Belt site bordering open countryside and woodland, located 2 miles from the historic village of Knowle in the West Midlands. The 1,400m2 (15,000 sq ft) house responds to its site in contextually and environmentally derived forms that create a buffer from a nearby road junction to embrace a sheltered garden landscape.
The project is rooted in a protective arm of brick wall that slopes upwards from the ground plane to form the north-west enclosure of the house, opening up to the south and east in an undulating elevation of canted double-height glazing set within a structure of timber fins. The textured buff-brick boundary is echoed in an organically rising and dipping roof landscape, which will be clad in red-toned zinc – traditionally articulated with standing seams – to reflect the red brick vernacular of the locality.
Curvilinear double-height entertaining and living spaces merge in a flow at the elbow of the house, with accommodation transitioning south and eastwards to progressively more private uses. The heart zone of family living space is hinged to the separate wing of entertaining space via an expressive cylindrical tower of top-lit vertical circulation. This creates an arrival sequence heralded by a sculptural staircase and opening up to views across the garden landscape.
Internally, exposed timber structural elements and vertical timber brise soleil to glazed elevations will create a layered and warm sequence of spaces to be further articulated with bespoke furnishings and cabinetry and modelled vertical circulation.
Richard Parr Associates’ design approach has centred on making intelligent use of a large plot by integrating a house that creates its own sense of boundary and enclosure while maximising south and east facing grounds. The external circulation strategy involved repositioning the entrance of the site further south and creating a service route bulwark at the boundary of the property.
The two-storey house with basement car parking will replace an environmentally inefficient structure with a passively-oriented highly insulated building that harnesses the thermal mass of its brick spine to absorb and store heat through south- and east-facing glazing. Proposed renewable energy systems include air and ground source heat pumps, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery and photovoltaic panels.
Alongside the family zone the design includes an entertaining wing of three guest suites and dedicated facilities for its social space; a service annexe integrating utility spaces with staff quarters; spa and gym areas; and office space in a two-storey satellite building.