Butterfly House

Oliver Leech Architects

: Corbett & Tasker (engineer)

Nestled within a small corner plot in Esher, Surrey, Butterfly House is a new compact home designed by Oliver Leech Architects to support multigenerational living. In 2018, clients Nikki and Richard Earthrowl commissioned the studio to design a future-proofed home for Nikki’s mother so that she can live within the plot of their existing family home.

The brief consisted of a two bedroom self-contained dwelling that includes space for a live-in carer, while also enabling the client’s mother to lead an independent, lightly assisted life well into the future. Set in the southern tip of the garden of the main house, the new house inhabits a small triangular corner, constrained on two sides. The triangular site dictated the form of the building, with four distinct pitched volumes, fanned-out to frame views, and prevent overlooking. Two sides hug the boundary, with roofs sloping down and away from the central volumes. The central volumes combine in a large open-plan living space that is expressed visually as an inverted ‘butterfly’ roof. All are wrapped in a burnt Japanese timber cladding that sits softly amongst the shadows of the surrounding trees. The splayed form of the four volumes is intended to avoid direct views of the main house, instead facing more private garden areas and large mature trees to shield the facade. Five years in the making, Butterfly House has been a careful exploration of form and material, but also a new expression of multigenerational living.