House of the Year 2023 shortlist: Rural Office puts a contemporary twist on Arts & Crafts

Rural Office’s Center Avenue, Farnham, has comfort, craftsmanship and contextual awareness. Under, exercise founder Niall Maxwell picks out his highlights

Credit history: Rory Gaylor

Center Avenue, Farnham
Rural Place of work for non-public customer
Agreement price: Private
GIA: 285m2

When the clientele for this relatives dwelling in suburban Farnham appointed Carmarthen-based mostly Rural Office environment, their intention was to renovate the run-down inter-war bungalow then stood on the website. They had been attracted by the architect’s rustic revamp of a Norfolk barn, which was one of the practice’s number of accomplished initiatives at the time the 2017 Residence of the Yr winner Caring Wooden was still below development. Feasibility research determined that there was minor worth preserving, but the newbuild property has the craftsmanship, comfort and historic sensitivity that its entrepreneurs had admired in the barn.

A 4m-higher clay-tiled roof studded with patinated zinc dormers provides a subtly contemporary inflection to the Arts & Crafts design and style of neighbouring properties, as do crisp white-rendered gables and chimneys. The system is organised all around a triple-top hall which connects all stages of the residence and the key dwelling regions, as perfectly as garden ‘rooms’. Bedrooms for the purchasers and their two grown-up little ones are tucked underneath the steeply pitched roof – tall, airy spaces given a additional personal character by a datum of dim by means of-coloured MDF.

Purely natural elements are in evidence all through, comprehensive in a way that yet again recalls the Arts & Crafts movement. Gentle filters through basket-weave timber panels at the entrance. Oak marries the tailor made-created kitchen area cupboards to partitions among the ground-ground rooms and the staircase, and harmonises with the brick-paved flooring and fireplace to make refined interiors that are understated but nevertheless warm and inviting.

‘Middle Avenue’s wonderful results is that it evokes a perception of familiarity and responds to the language of the local vernacular, without having currently being a slave to tradition,’ explained the Property of the 12 months jury. Jurors praised the way that common references are incorporated into a residence with its possess distinctive id. The high high-quality of development was also warmly recommended. ‘Selection and detailing of supplies gave the impact that this house would boost with the patina of age,’ reported juror Jessam Al-Jawad.

A few queries for Niall Maxwell, founding director, Rural Office environment

What is your favorite aspect of the property?

The household and garden is bounded by a dense laurel hedge. This acts as the datum, providing privacy on the site when acting as partitions to yard rooms in just, framing interactions with the internal areas. The steeply pitched roof and white gables that face the two roads are the only obvious parts of the home, as the floor floor is screened by the hedge. It is a homage to the Surrey vernacular, and a nod to the get the job done of Harold Faulkner and Edwin Lutyens who labored on this patch.

What was the best problem?

We adopted a material-1st technique to the layout, picking resources to minimize the embodied carbon in the composition and to obtain significant concentrations of thermal functionality, supporting to cut down the electrical power intake of the setting up in use. Materials include Steico joists in the roof and walls, cellulose insulation infill and wood-fibre exterior insulation with breathable Baumit render. Constructing to passivhouse regular also helped with airtightness. This solution was new for the contractor which had confined knowledge od functioning with these components, but their workmanship was exemplary and they embraced the challenge.

What classes from the venture could be used elsewhere?

We have been exploring for some time, by this and other domestic projects in delicate settings, how to balance lightweight design with the use of conventional vernacular components, in get to produce modern, electricity-successful properties. This has a direct effects on the selection of complementary materials, and the unusually intricate nature of the technological detailing. We are regularly refining this method and testing new approaches of solving technical difficulties that arise with each new job.

  • Ground floor plan.
    Ground ground prepare. Credit score: Rural Workplace
  • First floor plan.
    First ground plan. Credit score: Rural Office
  • Site plan.
    Site prepare. Credit score: Rural Business
  • Section.
    Section. Credit: Rural Business office


Structural engineer Fold Consulting Engineers

QS Martin Warren Associates

Electricity performance assessment Bullocks Consulting

Landscape advisor Transform Landscape Patterns

Principal contractor Colemans Creating Co

Joinery Old Oak Kitchens, and Palmers