photography by Jim Varney
York, North Yorkshire
We were invited by an architect and his wife to design a replacement dwelling. They had inherited a 1950’s family home adjoining one of the cities conservation areas and wished to replace it with a new home respecting this context and more significantly the archaeological importance of the site. When constructed, the original house plot had been subject to an archaeological dig, revealing a number of Roman burials. It was to be expected that the new house could also reveal significant archaeology.
Our clients presented us with a wish list for the new house, which was to provide a robust family home, flexible in plan to cater for a wide range of activities. A brief contained a list of rooms plus a “day in the life of” scenario to give an outline of how the house could be used.
The house is designed as a villa to reflect similar detached dwellings in the immediate vicinity. The scale was determined by the height of the ridge of the extension to the adjoining corner dwelling. Materials of the building reflect the area, being in brickwork, with elements of render. The planning process involved considerable discussion and whilst there were a number of local objections, the scheme gained resounding consent at planning committee, being seen as a positive addition to the architectural fabric of the city.
The building is highly insulated and makes good use of the south facing garden for solar gain, with limited openings to other elevations. The house is proving very economical to run. It is naturally well lit and requires very little heating up time. It passed the air tightness test with flying colours first time round. Traditional materials were employed to respect the context, though with a linear brick using tight 8mm raked joints to reflect historic Roman buildings. The emphasis on material selection was to ensure longevity and low maintenance, with a broad overhanging roof giving good protection to walls and windows.