Cedar House

Nicola Chambers Architect worked within a tight and compact lot to design an efficient and modern home for a family in Bishop’s Stortford.

The plot was a tight town centre site in Bishop’s Stortford that originally formed part of the neighbour’s back garden. The site, which slopes in two directions, was accessed through a narrow private access drive which already served three houses. This meant that access for the neighbours would have to be maintained at all times, while at the same time providing all necessary site access down a single track drive.

The site was sold with an outline planning permission for a small two bedroomed chalet style house but the brief from Kirsty and Joe was a four-bedroom, four bathroom, family house with a double garage and garden. We had to work hard to accommodate this increased volume on the site while at the same time respecting the immediate context. This meant that planning of the house had to be very efficient and compact. To this end everything is arranged around a central, top lit, double height entrance hall containing the staircase which reduces circulation space to a minimum. Large sliding doors on the ground floor also mean that the spaces can be opened up to each other and the garden but still screened off for privacy if required.

There are also three houses in close proximity to the site and so we had to carefully consider overlooking and maintaining the existing neighbour’s amenity while at the same time maximising light and views to the new property. These issues were overcome by respecting existing building lines and heights both at the front and rear of the property. Since the main volume of the house was placed in line with the neighbouring property existing open views and sightlines were maintained as far as possible.

Joining the garage to the house, giving it a flat roof and setting it into the slope of the site also kept the volume of this element to a minimum, increased light to the first floor bedrooms and meant that we could maximise the area of the rear garden.

K&J were clear from the outset that they wanted a modern house. The key was to interpret this to ensure that the house sat well within its local context by using traditional materials (brick, slate, lead, timber cladding) and forms (pitched roof, dormer windows) in a modern way so that the house felt both connected to its environment and yet was distinctive and contemporary in feel. Brick, slate, lead and timber were used for the house detailed in crisp, modern way. These materials are all common in the local context and helped root the house to its local environment. They are also soft, natural colours that improve with age as they weather. The light coloured brick also provides a visual break between the very tall brick wall that runs up the side of the access drive and the dark brick property next door. Polyester powder coated aluminium doors and windows then provided a contrast to the softer natural materials.

It was also very important to K&J that the living spaces were simply laid out, open plan and connected to the garden. Flexibility of use and privacy were then provided by sliding screens that recess into the walls when not in use. The large areas of glazing to the rear of the property provide uninterrupted views of the garden and, at the ground floor, they visually extend the living space to the landscaping beyond. At the first floor full height glazed pocket doors and balustrading frame longer views across to the town.

Design: Nicola Chambers Architect
Contractor: Pinehurst Construction
: 86 Imaging