The up-and-over stile metaphor is apt. The steps lead past the belvedere terrace to a recessed porch, beyond which is a parlour with a small study to one side. Placed overhead the master bedroom suite, these are the only rooms on the upper ground floor. Guests can be entertained away from the family areas, which are only a short flight of 10 steps below. The arrangement would also make a fine home office if ever required.
The oak-floored kitchen, dining and living room is one tall space, its ceiling following the line of the roof. Large openings – made possible by deep lattice-beam lintols – face east and west. The fibre-cement details are restrained: gutters and rainwater pipes are concealed, while the fireplaces in the parlour and living room have slim metal flues because the architects didn’t want blocky chimney stacks interrupting the abstract form.
Our interest lay in the simplicity of the slate-wrapped object and how it could be eroded,” says Boyd. The entrance porch is recessed beneath the eaves, which is everywhere else flush with the wall. The corner cutaway for the porch is emphasised by the parlour window, which makes most of the gable appear to cantilever.
The family’s everyday entrance is off the forecourt, behind the garage. The bedrooms face onto a sunken garden, which was to have been planted with half a dozen apple trees. The layering of the flat site is exceptionally refined: road, paddock, hedge, forecourt, house, garden terrace and sunken garden, a lawn enclosed by a rectangular path and, beyond that, pasture extending into the distance.
Perhaps fearful of maintenance issues, the clients may have baulked at certain details that would have made all the difference: no stud rails, planting the orchard in the sunken garden and laying a gravel drive, forecourt and paths instead of surfacing them with tarmac. Such small details matter greatly and can elevate even an outstanding project beyond the expected: here, regrettably, they made the end result more suburban than the architecture aspires to be.