birds portchmouth russum architects: downley house
birds portchmouth russum architects: downley house birds portchmouth russum architects: downley house
mar 05, 2013
birds portchmouth russum architects: downley house


‘downley house’ by birds portchmouth russum architects, london, england
image © nick kane
all images courtesy of birds portchmouth russum architects

 

 

located in south down’s national park in london, the ‘downley house’ is an impressive private residence that also holds important social and ecological
features while providing the necessary spaces for the client, who also doubled as contractor. local practice birds portchmouth russum architects was
given a large plot of lush land with an existing ruin; after acquiring approval to renovate and extend the dilapidated stone structure, the architects
decided to in fact inset the new construction from the old to allow it to become a landscape element paying homage to the memory of the site.
the residence can be thought of as a sequence of passage; an exterior promenade takes visitors through the gardens, circular courtyards, semi-hidden
walkways under vegetative pergolas and finally to the main entrance at the heart of the path, the barrel-shaped social area. the circulation then continues
through to the inside of the dwelling, with staircases located in the cylindrical masses on either side of the central vaulted volume that service the
separated guest wing and family wing of the household. another staircase towards the back end takes one up to the rooftop garden with views of the town
before bridging back to the higher end of the hill, successfully marking a journey through the property back to the verdant landscape that so defines the
character of the project.

 

a concrete foundation and retaining walls lay the base-work for the cross laminated timber (CLT) members that comprise the main structural skeleton.
CLT construction benefits from lighter material that retains a strong structural profile, versatile in that it can be used for walls and floors in a variety of
methods, pliable, and as it uses less mass it cuts down on wasted wood. the primary structure of the dwelling was erected in only six weeks with a crane
using this strategy, later clad in local stone or wood. the barrel element or ‘foudre’, as explained by the architects, is a ribbed construction wrapped in
curved CLT sheets and clad in copper roofing. the assembly resulted in a high quality of insulation and sealing, with the use of earth tubes, mechanical
ventilation with heat recovery and a ground source heat pump eliminates the need for additional heating energy in the winter time. to further push the
home’s sustainable features, every year the ditcham park school students take a trip to the site to learn about all the strategies used.

 

 


approach from the high end of the site
image © nick kane

 

 


view from the yard
image © nick kane

 

 


circular court entrance to the promenade
image © nick kane

 

 


wooden pergola defining the walkway, natural stone and wood cladding
image © nick kane

 

 


main entrance at the ‘foudre’ or barreled volume
image © nick kane

 

 


inside the main entrance
(left) stairs lead up to the family wing
(right) view from the upstairs with voids in the floors allowing light to penetrate through
images © nick kane

 

 


view up the cylindrical staircase volume
image © nick kane

 

 


foudre interior with exposed wooden ribs
image © nick kane

 

 


kitchen
image © nick kane

 

 


light well
image © nick kane

 

 


bedroom with views of the rural landscape
image © nick kane

 

 


illuminated at night
images © nick kane

 

 

 


site plan

 

 


floor plan / level 0

 

 


floor plan / level 1

 

 


floor plan / level 2

 

 


section

 

 


elevation

 

 


axonometric

 

 


components and sequence through the promenade

 

 

project info:

 

 

structural engineers: matthew wells / techniker ltd
m&e engineers: andy ford, mott macdonald fulcrum
project managers: giles ruckert and mark wellbeloved / projec-techniques ltd
landscape architects: noel farrer / farrer huxley associates
cost: 2.5 million pounds

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