Shoppe Hill, Dunsfold
An ultra-insulated, energy efficient, modern three/four-bedroom family home built to exacting standards, sited within private ancient woodland. In all 14.22 acres.
Our clients had lived in a small damp cottage on the site for ten years prior to starting this project and were keen to find a way of living in the woods that celebrated the unique qualities of the place: a closeness to nature, seasonal transformation, and an acoustic spatial awareness of being inside the woods.
The shaded timber arcade surrounding the house blurs the edge within the woodland and makes the most of the southern light coming from the top of the hill, while enjoying views down the slope to the north and the river a house that faces in all directions. Building on the vernacular principal of one device performing a range of both aesthetic and practical functions, the loggia is key to the success of the scheme.
From a design perspective, it blurs the threshold between inside and out. This allows a type of buffer zone to be created, which in the summer keeps the hot sun at bay. In winter you are surrounded by the grey trunks of the woodland and there is a sense that the landscape is sleeping.
When a window opens or a light turns on, it is not the disturbance on the woods it might be if the arcade was not there. Therefore, the wildlife approaches the house.
The house is divided between a living end to the west and bedrooms to the east. The living spaces are tightly planned around a central sheltered sunny courtyard facing a small hillside garden and veg area, a domestic space and this allows the protective outer edge of the house to have a wild meadow connection to the woodland. The columned arcade is intended to create a discreet outer skin, neither camouflaged nor formal, a hide, a screen, a frame, and a moment to pause as you leave the house.
The house structure is constructed to level 6 of the UK Code for Sustainable Homes using Structural Insulated Panels. Set into the side of the hillside, the lower ground floor uses a Victorian approach to basement construction with an accessible walkway surrounding the warm structure, avoiding the need for tanking of the outer structure. Airtightness, insulation and energy use have been optimised with rain water harvesting, heat-pump, full house heat recovery ventilation and solar water heater, contributing to a near zero energy building solution. Interestingly, the basement needs minimal heating and maintains a steady 18-20°C.
Oak and ash for internal and external use was harvested by horses from the clients own ancient woodlands and seasoned on site for years in advance of building. The horses are preferred as less disruptive to a woodland setting than heavy machinery.
The untreated oak cladding ages according to its orientation and weathering; the ash was used for internal joinery. The house was a self-build by experienced clients, a collaborative process and was a slow thoughtful build over many years.
The reception/dining and kitchen area enjoys a westerly aspect and has the most fabulous central fireplace with a recessed wood burner that, through side air vents in the chimney breast, help to distribute the heat generated throughout the home. A central corridor with dual aspect floor to ceiling windows link the reception areas to the bedrooms. The master bedroom enjoys a substantial amount of fitted wardrobes and vanity units along with a superbly fitted en-suite shower room. Two further double bedrooms with generous fitted wardrobes are complemented by a family bathroom.
The lower ground floor plays host to good sized office/fourth bedroom and a separate shower room. Two storage rooms, plant room/utility and laundry chute from one of the bedrooms all add to the usability of this well-planned home. The inclusion of substantial cinema room wired for full surround sound is a real bonus.
Millhanger Cottage is accessed via a long tree lined driveway that, upon arrival, offers ample parking for several cars. An agricultural style barn provides garaging for up two cars. A back driveway leads to a large metal agricultural barn which is currently used as a store and workshop. The gardens that surround the house are well planted with a mix of wildflowers, seasonal planting, and herbaceous borders. A delightful vegetable garden with raised beds is well screened and protected from any un-wanted deer!
A 2.83-acre paddock is also located at the southern edge of the site. Along the western edge of the field is a newly established orchard with a range of fruit trees and a fabulous tree house.
The 11.39 acres of woodland has been carefully managed and has a myriad of private pathways and trails for you to explore and enjoy.
In all 14.22 acres.
* There is also a public footpath that passes through some of the woodland.
** Copy produced in part with Marwa el Mubark
- Open plan living, dining, kitchen space with woodland landscape views
- Bespoke fitted kitchen with Corian-style worksurfaces, insulated pantry and ample storage, appliances plus a Quooker tap
- Master bedroom, dressing area, en-suite shower room
- Two further bedrooms and family bathroom
- Lower ground floor office/bedroom four, separate shower room
- Cinema/entertainment room
- Storage room, plant/utility room
- Solar water heater, Air source heat pump, underfloor heating, double glazed windows, full house heat recovery ventilation
- Highly insulated walls, roof and basement floor using the latest SIP panel technology
- Private driveway with ample parking, detached agricultural style garage, separate large agricultural style barn/workshop
- Landscaped gardens, 4,000 litre rainwater harvest tank
- 11.39 acres of woodland, 2.83 acres of paddocks
- In all about 14.22 acres