Zinc House by OB Architecture in Milford
The Zinc House is a contemporary family home of 2,500 square feet created for a client with impaired mobility. This means that the house contains wide corridors and smooth surfaces with no thresholds. The ground floor and the first floor are connected with an open glass lift that runs up through the atrium.
The concept of this home’s design evolved out of the client’s desire for a highly contemporary house that will exploit the beautiful views over the Solent from the first floor.
OB Architecture decided to turn the house upside down in order to achieve this wish of the client. The large open plan kitchen, living and dining space is located at the first floor while the bedrooms are on the ground floor.
From the architects: “We were given the kind of brief most young aspiring practices dream of: to design a contemporary house in a wonderful location overlooking the sea. The twist here was that the house had to be highly accessible whilst avoiding the ‘institutionalised’ feel that many homes for people with impaired mobility occasionally suffer from.
The site presented us with a few challenges. First of all, it was set between 2 traditional, low lying thatched cottages that were identified by the planners as being of architectural significance in the local area. Secondly, the views out to sea were only achievable at first floor level, and thirdly, the front, less-private side to the plot faced south meaning there would be a conflict between the road and the proposed garden that would front onto it.
Following initial discussions with the planners we established a framework within which we could build; we developed a concept of 4 interlocking forms that would give the accommodation the clients required, whilst respecting the scale of the cottages either side and the important views they provided to the village.”
“We proposed a long linear timber clad form at first floor, set above a light weight glazed section below, and a white rendered wing to the side with a projecting garage at the end to create a welcoming entrance courtyard.
The composition is ‘anchored’ to the site by a double height entrance hall that is clad on the outside in dark grey zinc.
In spite of the sensitive nature of the site, the planners were very receptive to our contemporary approach.
We turned the traditional notion of the house ‘upside down’ by placing the large open plan kitchen/living/dining room at first floor so that Mike and Linda could take advantage of the lovely views out over the Christchurch Bay during the day whilst cooking, eating and relaxing.”
“At ground floor, a ‘sun room’ to the front of the house opens out to a protected front garden that is bordered to the road by a tall rendered wall with playful slot openings, and to the driveway by linear planters to create a sunny and secluded and private outdoor space.
The bedrooms are arranged around a large double height entrance hall through which rises a bespoke disabled lift. Rather than hiding the lift within a discrete shaft, we took the decision early on to celebrate the vertical movement through the house by creating a bespoke shaft that is open to the living room and hallway below. We managed to source an elegant and moderately priced platform lift from Austria that we inserted into the shaft. The result is something that we could not have achieved through an off-the-shelf solution and is one of the real triumphs of the project.”
“The walls were heavily insulated and sealed to create a highly efficient super structure. An air source heat pump provides the heating and hot water and a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system throughout the house recovers the heat from the kitchen and bathrooms to provide warm fresh air in the winter months.
The open nature of the house makes it a very sociable and enjoyable place to be: you can be cooking upstairs whilst chatting to someone downstairs through the glazed balustrade around the double height space.
The extensive areas of glazing give a constant reminder of the dramatic and ever changing weather in this exposed location: the dappled sunlight breaks through the trees into the kitchen in the morning; the rain showers down on the large rooflights over the dining area during the day; and the sun sets over the sea in the evening, filling the living area with an orange glow captured by the large framed window to the west.”