Ford Gilpin Riley Architects
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Downs Higher Metcombe, Ottery St Mary

Client: Private
Area: 400 m²
Stage: Completed in September 2007
Building costs: circa £500k
Description: Replacement Dwelling

Built just after the turn of the century the former house was constructed of solid external walls and had a generally poor standard of major components such as windows, doors, floors and roof. Whilst a scheme for the refurbishment of the existing would have entail virtually complete reconstruction the end-product would not overcome the limitations of the poor layout and circulation of the house which belongs to a bygone age and takes minimal advantage of the exceptional curtilage within which it is set. As a result, the number of shortcomings led to the demolition of the existing house and outbuildings and the provision of a replacement dwelling.

The replaced dwelling is arranged on 3 levels on the lower storey, which allow the layout to step down the site and relate respectively to the existing driveway, courtyard and formal garden levels. The upper floor is set at one level above the middle of the three ‘ground’ floor levels. The connectivity and juxtaposition of these four levels together with the configuration and interrelationship of the layout creates a very dynamic volume within any part of which it is possible to appreciate not only the main parts of the interior, but also to enjoy wide angled views of the garden and the outstanding landscape beyond.

In our view, the use of suitable construction materials has a crucial role in ensuring that the new property integrates fully and successfully with its setting. It was our intention that all of the timber elements are robust in their appearance and construction and that their finish and decorative treatment is as naturalistic as possible. In addition to this, the fabric of the new building incorporates thermal mass and insulation that will ensure the most efficient use of energy. It also provides what we believe to be a stimulating modern building which utilizes traditional natural materials in a modern ethic thus ensuring that the end product empathises with its location.

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