House in Forest Row

Project Details

Location: Forest Row, East Sussex
Local Authority: Wealden District Council
Size: 75 m2 Extension & Internal Alterations / 35m2 Garage
Completed: 2023

Awards

Winner of 2023 Small Scale Residential Award - Sussex Heritage Trust

“A well-imagined, brilliantly executed kitchen addition to a house set in a glorious garden, resulting in a bold statement showing flair and imagination by both the owners and the architect.”

Judges of the Sussex Heritage Trust Award 2023

The project brief was to create a new kitchen and dining space with lots of light and connectivity to the garden.  The property is a detached house in a sensitive location, bounded by the Ashdown Forest SPA and Conservation Area.  The mature two acre gardens are the focal point of the house, cascading downhill from an external terrace to the east.  A contemporary addition was proposed with large glazed openings to embrace views of the landscaped garden, focal trees and forest beyond.

The existing linear layout had been extended historically, compounding issues with circulation.  The kitchen and dining room was small and had become a thoroughfare to the rest of the house being next to the main entrance.  An integrated 1950’s garage and plant room to the north limited the outlook to the garden and did not have the same architectural quality as the remainder of the house. 

Relocating the garaging to a new detached outbuilding opened up the site potential with opportunity for a triple aspect kitchen and dining extension benefitting from improved views and natural light.  The main entrance, formerly a flat roof link between house and garage, has become a light and spacious entrance hall with a catslide connection to the original house.

Support was gained at pre-application stage with Wealden Planning Department for a contemporary extension, albeit in a traditional vernacular form reflecting the architectural proportions of the existing house.  Charred black cladding and a zinc roof are recessive, referencing the black stained timber and corrugated metal roofing evident in Sussex locally.  A steel framed structure creates an open vaulted living space with height and volume.  A feature glazed gable to the east and at high level to the west create a connection to the landscape.  High levels of insulation were installed to timber infill walls and roofs to offset the impact of large glazed openings which maximised light and aspect. 

The extension now connects the house to the main garden to the east, kitchen garden to the north, and trees in the adjacent Ashdown Forest to the west.  Morning and afternoon light fill the space making it enjoyable to inhabit throughout the day.  It has become the hub of family living, enjoyed so much by its owners that the large kitchen island has now become the perfect hot desk when working from home, a testament to the flexibility of the space and the positive impact the project has had on the everyday life of the owners.

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