Napier Clarke Architects

Project Managed by Frank Elliott – FEPM construction consultancy, Lorenzo Zandri (Photography)

Chelwood is a new modern contextual family home in Chesham Bois, Amersham. The brief was to replace the dilapidated existing suburban house with a house that responded to the surrounding local vernacular and context. The house is in an area of special character and therefore, the rhythm and scale of the house needed to fit in with the suburban street. Gaining planning permission for a modern house in this location is not easy. However, we clearly demonstrated the concept was influenced by the prevailing characteristics of the area, which included the use of vaulted roofs as the centrepiece of the design. Therefore, planners and neighbours were accepting of the proposal. We created a triangulated folding vaulted roof that maximised space but minimised external scale. The use of handmade local red brick and local charred timber are reminiscent of the existing building. The brief required a large volume including 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, living space, snug, kitchen/ dining, play area, garage, utility room and a large yoga room in the attic. To reduce the overall mass, we experimented with floating a monolithic brick form cantilevered over a lightweight charred timber recess. This helped reduce the appearance of scale. The ‘barcode’ front elevation consists of slender windows with vertical brick fins providing shading and privacy. The facade is constructed of highly insulated timber panels wrapped with a Tyvek house wrap achieving an air tightness of 2.5. The house is naturally ventilated. The ground floor is simple and subtle in design it highlights the form of the cantilevered brick upper storeys, with the cantilever providing shading to the rooms below. The interior reflects the exterior, with exposed structure, brick walls and charred timber.