Wood Farm by Studio RHE

Located in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Suffolk countryside (UK), the ambition of the project was to create a house featuring an uncompromisingly modern design of the highest sustainable standards, whcih could also be sympathetic to its surroundings.

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Description by Studio RHE

A lime tree crescent avenue provides clues and glimpses of the modern glazing and zinc structures beyond the existing gable end brick walls. Once inside, the carefully defined views reveal a choreographed sequence of spaces that function as a simple three-room house for the client couple. When additional accommodation is required, the entire space connects to include the adjacent re-purposed galvanised black barn as an undercover external play space.

The grain of the existing buildings on the site and the requirement to raise the ground level above the 100-year floodplain created a linear plan combining the existing disparate agricultural buildings and new modern vernacular forms with a new glazed axial gallery.

The building’s orientation provides open views to the Southern elevation. External courtyards provide shelter from strong prevailing winter winds or else cool outdoor spaces in which to relax during summer months.

The house features a rich mix of traditional local materials including reclaimed hand made Suffolk brick and terracotta tiles, galvanised steel, flint and green oak which connects directly with the new laminated timber and steel frame, oversized frameless glass, black zinc and extensive porcelain cladding.

The varied roofline means that every internal soffit is unique, with no flat ceilings. The main reception and bedrooms are oak-lined creating modern rustic volumes. The heavily insulated enclosure has under-floor heating throughout powered by a photovoltaic array on the barn roof and a mechanical heat recovery system. All are controlled by a central web enabled Building Management System.

The building can remain off-grid due to it’s renewable energy. Powered by 2x4Kpw Samsung PV Panels, powering 2 Mitsubishi Ecodan air source heat pumps providing both hot water, underfloor heating and power to the PIR controlled LED lighting throughout.

High efficiency wood burning stoves are installed in both wings against solid mass walls. Waste heat is captured by a ducted Mechanical Heat Recovery System feeding a heat exchanger. Excess heat and glare is kept out of the building by south facing external aluminium solar control sun tracking blinds, and full height internal roller blinds.

Potable water is provided to low water use fittings from an existing fresh water well, and all black water is treated delivering potable levels of waste for irrigation to the new pond.

A Loxone self-learning mini-server controls the building systems intelligent energy management with remote monitoring.

During the initial studies specific bird nests were identified and successfully incorporated including both owls and swallows, and bat boxes provided.

The swimming pool is filled from the natural spring and covered with a triple wall insulating solar collecting cover with solar collecting cells.

Photography by Dirk Linder

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- by Matt Watts