"Every day we say to each other how much we love our new home, how everything just works so well, how thrilled we are with the design, interpretation and execution and how quickly we have come to see it as “home”.
We are also slowly realising that what we considered minor details, that you took care of, has made this the house what it is.
Thank you both for your infinite patience and good-humour throughout the long process as well as your professional expertise, too many people have asked us if we are still on speaking terms with our builders and architects and we can both say, honestly, that you have been the very best."
M & M
Long House, Somerset
Location: Somerton, Somerset
Architect's Team: Anaëlle Regent, Carine Cucherousset
Contractor: J+C Symonds
Structural Engineer: Momentum
Garden Designer: James Alexander-Sinclair
Cost Consultant: Northgates
Photographer: Nick Guttridge
Area: 350 sq m
The Long House is the home and workplace of a couple leaving the city to fulfil their ambition to create a bespoke home and significant garden. It is tailored to a detailed brief and conceived as suites of rooms in wings. All habitable rooms are focused on the garden with a variety of views and relationships with the garden which is designed by James Alexander Sinclair.
Nikolaus Pevsner noted in the Buildings of England: “The market-place of Somerton is one of the most happily grouped urban pictures in Somerset.” The house is inserted on the periphery of this village and constructed to reinforce local distinctiveness. It adapts the traditional long house form using traditional building materials highlighted by contemporary details. It is built with local blue lias stone, which is contrasted with shot-blasted stainless-steel window reveals, minimally detailed black metal porch and a crisp black zinc roof.
Entry to the house is an episodic experience. The house beds into the hillside, revealing only a modest single storey entrance elevation and the view of the garden is withheld. There are limited openings in the elevation with the entrance announced by a generous black metal-clad porch and large dormer window above. Entry is across the cobbles of an enclosed courtyard and through a modest door in the porch. This opens to reveal the large double height hall which in turn leads to a sequence of main living spaces from which the garden is gradually revealed. The sequence terminates in the sitting room with a large picture window in the gable end of the house giving an elevated view over the garden and pond.
The suites of rooms are arranged in wings radiating from a central entrance hall. The west wing is the social heart of the house. The kitchen, dining and sitting room are located on the upper floor in a linear sequence terminating in an elevated panoramic view of the garden. The east wing houses the master bedroom suite arranged in order of increasing privacy: snug, bedroom, bathroom and ending with the dressing rooms. The lower floor accommodates a two-bedroom guest suite with a mini kitchen and printing studio in one wing, and the study and service spaces in the other. The workspaces of study and print studio are located at the end of the wings enabling maximum separation and expression of quite different characters.
We strike a careful design balance between traditional, local and contemporary materials: local blue lias stone walls, lime render, limewashed brick; contemporary in-situ concrete, charred timber cladding, black zinc roof, black steel windows, brushed stainless steel window linings and EPDM rubber dormer.
The blue lias stone is environmentally beneficial as the processing of the material is low and the transport from a quarry just over one mile away gives a building material with exceptional low embodied energy content. The long house form is good for energy use in many ways enabling maximum daylighting and natural cross ventilation. The sequential one room plan allows localised control of room environments. The high external wall area in this case is mitigated by the partial sinking of the building into the hillside.
The thick stone and brick walls provide thermal mass and the house is orientated to maximise passive solar gain in the winter. 90% of the glazing faces south and is protected from overheating in summer through the use of external sliding shutters.
The interior is characterised by limewashed brick walls typical of modest vernacular buildings. The concrete frame of the house plays a prominent role in the interior design with exposed concrete walls and ceilings in the lower floor. Wherever possible materials are left in their raw state with untreated oak window and wall linings, doors, stair treads and flooring bringing warmth to the otherwise ascetic palette of materials. As highlights there are in situ concrete worktops, a blackened steel and oak staircase. NCA also designed all fitted furniture and fittings crafted locally in Dorset and Somerset including the bespoke limed wax oak kitchen.