Woodland Houses
Shepreth High Street

This project is set within the former grounds of an established dwelling house, within the Conservation Area of Shepreth, south of the village.

Unlike some of the immediate neighboring properties on the main road, which sit astride the roadside, the existing dwelling and a neighboring listed dwelling are set back behind mature trees and established hedgerow, that conceals the scale of the house and grounds. The southern boundary to the original property sits adjacent to Church Road leading to the local parish church and three other large houses set off from the main road. All Saints is a lovely example of Early English style architecture consisting of mainly brick, limestone, dressed clunch and flint work, low pitched roofs and a squat bell tower that replaced a former spire after remodelling in 1774.
Stacks Image 44
The site is heavily sheltered by established and planted trees seeded by the previous owners. Many of the indigenous deciduous trees are masked from view detracting from the Early English character landscape setting that epitomises the local Shepreth landscape within the conservation area.

The project site is flat and hidden from view, while at the rear open agricultural land forms a threshold to the backs of houses northwest of the site before reaching the mainline railway, which serves Shepreth mainline station.
Plot 1
Ground Floor Plan
Stacks Image 255
Plot 1
First Floor Plan
Stacks Image 253
Plot 1
Roof Plan
Stacks Image 257
Stacks Image 288
Stacks Image 293
Stacks Image 298
The design concept for the site is founded on curating a series of external landscaped garden spaces that relate the existing and proposed built forms together, while enhancing native woodland species. The built forms of the new houses carefully juxtapose a contemporary vernacular of brick walls and roofs that have a familiar language and character to the setting, without resorting to a pastiche architecture of buildings normally attributed to this type of countryside setting.

An overarching aspect of the design has been the attention to orientation, sunlight and sunlit spaces, both internally and externally and the visibility and privacy of spaces between dwellings - both existing and proposed, to ensure the health and wellbeing of neighboring homes and proposed new residents.

The site frontage is punctuated by two new accesses either side of retained trees and a new planted screen forming an informal landscaped frontage to the High Street. The south access, serving the frontage house, restricts visibility inward by sweeping in front of a low wall and hedgerow at the back of the driveway. The second access forms a longer route serving the western end of the site, gently arching around the frontage house which masks visibility along its length.
Set back from the road and roughly equidistant from existing properties sat to the north and south, the frontage house to the site (Plot 1), takes the form of a T-shape so as to form a semi-private and a private side to its plot. The main mass of the house sits behind a front gable resembling the built form of Meadow Thatch (a part listed dwelling to the north). A connected single storey wing bisects the plot southward to form two distinct garden spaces either side. The wing visually encloses the ground plane extending to the sites southern boundary culminated by an exposed brick chimney. A retained large group of trees on the southern boundary adjacent reinforce the sense of enclosure between the parallel gardens to the rear.

At the western end of the site a clearing made within the existing woodland has been carefully configured to accommodate a second larger dwelling. To the north, adjacent open scrubland, the existing planted edge is to be replenished with new planting to continue the access boundary treatment. At the southern end retained mature trees will form a woodland garden that also culminates views from outside the site and outward to the west from The Chase. Here too, some of the largest retained trees on the site form an important character to the conservation area from outside the site.

The westerly house (Plot 2) has been oriented north south to give an east and west aspect to internal rooms. Similar to plot 1, a semi-private and private garden space is placed either side to take advantage of views and sunlight associated with a westerly orientation. As an integral part of the woodland setting the house has the benefit of dappled summer sunlight to passively shade the house by day, while the high tree canopy will enable low winter sun angles to penetrate beneath.

Plot 2
Ground Floor Plan
Stacks Image 260
Plot 2
First Floor Plan
Stacks Image 263
Plot 2
Roof Plan
Stacks Image 266
Stacks Image 302
Stacks Image 305
Stacks Image 308
The built forms of the new houses carefully juxtapose a contemporary vernacular of brick walls and roofs that have a familiar language and character to the setting. Selection of materials have considered the effects of building in close proximity to trees that retain moisture and can encourage mould growth in winter months, due to a lack air movement around a buildings envelope. The new buildings will echo the smooth cut brickwork of Victorian buildings found locally. Large openings in brickwork are either recessed and set in a relief of contrasting off-white cladding making reference to the traditional white walls of cottages and local sheep, or simply punctuated to form an asymmetric balance with surrounding brickwork to give additional visual weight to the masonry. Shallow roof eaves and gables are angled to manipulate shading at ground level and echo man made forms that silhouette and resonate within the local landscape. This vernacular aesthetic is further echoed by the use of metal roofs, contrasting red brick chimneys, simple detailing, and double boarded treated timber.

Landscape walls are to match the red/brown brick chimney stacks of the houses and other locally listed cottages.

Project Team
Client: Dernford Ltd
Architects: studio24 architects
Planning Consultant: Carter Jonas
Transport Consultant: TPA
Landscape Architect: Liz Lake
Arboriculturalist: Oisin Kelly
Stacks Image 251
Stacks Image 249