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Gloucestershire architects Austin Design Works secure planning for impressive multi-generational family home

PUBLISHED: 15:29 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:29 14 March 2019

"The innovative property, which will sit in 4.3ha of carefully-constructed formal gardens, meadows and parkland, will be a home for current and future generations."


The practice have spent more than twelve months putting together an ambitious proposal for the renovation in Stourbridge

Local practice Austin Design Works has secured planning permission for an exceptional country house in the Greenbelt.

The 1,000sq/m property - a third of which is subterranean - will replace an existing 1980s chalet-style bungalow in the historic village of Belbroughton, near Stourbridge.

ADW Directors Rachael and Matt Austin spent more than twelve months working on their proposal after a previous application submitted by another practice was refused by Bromsgrove District and Redditch Borough Councils.

At the heart of ADW’s bold new concept was the creation of a replacement dwelling in the greenbelt which meets all the expectations of modern living, incorporating exceptional design and state-of-the-art technology and energy efficiency.

The innovative property, which will sit in 4.3ha of carefully-constructed formal gardens, meadows and parkland, will be a home for current and future generations.

It features subterranean car parking giving secure access to the heart of the house; a swimming pool, gym and bar; stunning entrance hall with glass lift and high levels of natural light and spacious living areas to maximise the arresting countryside views.

‘We designed the house based on clear farmstead-style vernacular precedents,” said Matt, architect for the scheme, who runs the practice with his Landscape Architect sister Rachael, ensuring a unique, holistic inside-and-outside approach to every project.

“The clients have lived in the area for 30 years, and because of their background in marine engineering, have a particular interest in how the building is constructed and the way the views and spaces can be optimised.

“They’re excited at the prospect of creating a home which embodies technology, and interested by the idea of the architectural expression of asymmetric ridges and roof trusses, challenging the perceptions of traditional craft and bringing it to contemporary form.”

A sheltered courtyard entrance provides a clear sense of welcome to the house - minimising external clutter to protect views from surrounding footpaths - the property flows from the main living accommodation through high-performance glazing to connected outdoor spaces.

On the ground floor is an open-plan sitting room, kitchen and dining room spilling out on to three terraces. Upstairs are two galleries and a master suite.

To the east of the inner courtyard are guest suites, connected to the house via a loggia.

Vast swathes of glazing are given shading to control privacy and security and manage solar energy levels.

Low-energy, sustainable and recycled materials will be used in construction - including faience cladding - and a ground source heat pump is to be installed, while the latest advanced Passivhaus thermal modelling software (PHPP) was used to develop the scheme.

A major challenge was to recontour the surrounding land, some of which had been used as landfill for many years, to create a lake and meadow areas.

Over-grazed and lacking natural biodiversity, Rachael worked with an ecologist to design wildlife corridors across the site and thousands of trees will be planted to restore biodiversity and habitats and encourage the return of native species. In addition, colourful planting with clipped hedges will surround the house, allowing the building to sit unobtrusively in the rolling landscape.

“Our approach to planning is based on dialogue with local authorities right from the word go,” said Rachael.

“To that end, we started working with the planning authority at the very start of the design process, to ensure the best possible design outcome was achieved, both in terms of policy constraints and fulfilling the client’s brief.”

ADW - which designed the £30m Swinhay House near Stroud in Gloucestershire, featured in the BBC drama Sherlock - tabled three design approaches ahead of a pre-application report in January 2018, citing past precedents for subterranean development within current Greenbelt areas and design guides for Worcestershire farmstead vernacular.

“We’re absolutely delighted to have been able to secure permission for this rather exceptional replacement dwelling which will undoubtedly be an improvement to the area,” said Matt. “We have specialised in projects like this for over 20 years and we’re thrilled for the client that they’ll finally be able to build a home for generations to come.”

Visit the Austin Design Works website here.

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