Island Rest

Our brief was to design a contemporary holiday house - a home away form home - for a family with three children.

‘Island Rest’ is our response to our client’s brief for a contemporary family holiday home. Situated on a beautiful Isle of Wight creek, ‘Island Rest’ sits on a spacious site with direct access to the water and views of the Solent beyond.

Our clients wanted a special space to escape to that would bring the family together, with a focus on nature; in particular access to the Solent with all associated water activities.

Our design is a low in profile, simple single-storey rectilinear form containing the main living and dining area with a bedroom ‘wing’ leading off it. The master suite is the exception – this has been kept separate from the other bedrooms and is situated at the other end of the living area with access to the deck outside. Every room in the house has been situated to maximise the views to the north, but the living areas also look out onto the south-facing courtyard, allowing sunshine deep into the plan. This creates a dramatic impact as you look through the house to the gardens and water beyond, and inside a sense of light and space.

Given the waterside location of this project, we needed to carefully respond to the typology of the site, with particular reference to flooding. To address the flood risk, the floor level has been raised to perch on the highest point of the site – which is outside of the future flood risk zone – and the house spans out on a single level as the terrain slopes away, leaving the bedroom wing ‘floating’ over the landscape below.

Landscaping was a consideration from the outset and has a very natural and organic feel, with mowed paths through wildflowers leading to and defining areas of different function and interest.

The project gained planning in August 2018 and completed on site in September 2019.

Questions and Answers
Who are the clients and what’s interesting about them?
Our clients are a couple with three children ranging from 7-11 years of age. The client also runs a successful construction industry consultancy that has done many well known projects worldwide. As such it was a privilege to be chosen as architect for their house as they know so many leading architects throughout the world!

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How is the project unique?
What really sets this project apart is the location and our response to it. The flooding issues helped inform the design and the elevated portion of the building.

As the house also sits facing the creek, it can be seen from the water, and the incoming car ferry from the main land. As such, we wanted the house to sit quietly against the backdrop of trees, while feeling like it embraced the views when looking out. We achieved this by designing a single storey, long and low, black house. As such it blends in against the backdrop of trees. Overhangs and the north orientation also minimises reflection on large glazed areas.

We’re also super proud of delivering this project in record time. We were appointed in March 2018 and planning was approved in August 2018. We started on site in September 2018 and completed the house 12 months later. From appointment to completion was less than 18 months!

What does the clients say about the house?
“In the case of our house, I felt you [Strom Architects] clearly understood what we needed, converted that in to a beautiful space that works well for us and capitalises on the main asset of the site – the views and aspect. The spaces are well judged resulting in an efficiency that I think perfectly meets the needs of a modern family without being unnecessarily excessive. This judgement results in a sustainable solution that doesn’t use more than is needed to meet the function. I also think it has a clarity in the language of materials used. Wood was used throughout, but expressed very differently on the inside and outside creating a sharp contrast adding to the richness of the design. In addition to the geometry and scale of the house, the success of the cladding relief and colour really ensures the building sits in its surroundings in a perfectly balanced way; this is a comment that is echoed unanimously among the neighbours. The decision to allow the land to flow under the house accommodating the natural slope in the site again, adds to the clarity of the form ensuring its simplicity is powerful in the elevations. Above all, we find it a joy to be in, and ultimately the success of any architecture has to be judged on those that experience it.”

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What was the brief?
Our brief was to design a contemporary holiday house – a home away form home – for a family with three children.

Our clients asked for an architecturally timeless building, drawing on the very best modern architectural concepts to create a whole. No frivolous moves; rigour must flow through every space and every detail that the building is. The design should show an intelligence at space and detail level that can stand scrutiny.

They wanted the house to feel open and light, and to be simple to use and simple to maintain. It should be welcoming to others and we need to readily welcome families of four (or so) to stay with us for the weekends and holidays.

They asked the house to sit low, yet capitalising on the topography and not compromising views of the Solent and the Creek. Light was to be a significant part of how the house, with consideration of the main views being to the North and yet considering south sun.

The rooms should be simple, clean, efficient and uncomplicated to encourage children to be outside enjoying the space. As such the bedrooms should be places to sleep only and not as places to stay. Family areas should have the ability to be cosy (log fire etc) so one can watch a movie and the spaces in which dinner can be enjoyed should be open and communicate with the kitchen as modern life prefers.

What were the key challenges?
The project sits on an Isle of Wight creek, and the site was susceptible to coastal flooding. Whilst the house enjoys the most spectacular views, it is also north facing, so we had to balance views, sun and orientation.

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What were the solutions?
To overcome flooding issues we worked within strict guidelines on the finished floor level of the house. We placed it at the highest part fo the site, and one part projects out over the lower site area on stilts.

The site being north facing posed its own challenges as sunlight would not access the main facade facing the sea. As such we made the living room dual aspect to maximise the view, and also to take advantage of south light in a protected courtyard. The courtyard get lots of sun an is sheltered from the wind. Yet, you always get a sense of the sea, due to the transparency of the house.

Key products used:
The house is clad in larch cladding which is stained black. The minimally framed windows are from Reynaers.

What building methods were used?
The house is a combined timber and steel frame. By pre-cambering the steel above the sliding doors, a large column free span was achieved with a very slender beam.

What are the sustainability features?
We worked with a sustainability consultant to achieve a sustainable build. High levels of insulation and an airtight envelope, reduced that heating needs. The house and pool are heated by Air Source Heat Pumps, and photovoltaics panels are placed on the roof. The roof is also used for rainwater harvesting.

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