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Floating House

Architectural Design Concept
Floating House Exterior Front Elevation
Floating House Kitchen
Floating House Entrance
Floating House Bedroom
Floating House Media Room

Our client approached us as they had recently purchased a site which was set in a suburban settlement area and was occupied by a typical 1960s bungalow (see before images). The client brief was to demolish the existing bungalow and design a modern family home in its place. The site was constrained by a number of trees with tree preservation orders (TPOs) on them so any design would need to be sensitive to this and not damage or hard these protected trees. The site was also of ecological interest as it was on a major flight path for bats so any proposed scheme would need to consider resting locations for bats.

Once commissioned SDA carried out further site and historical investigations which revealed that the site used to be part of a working quarry and in fact the rear edge of the site, although overgrown with vegetation, was actually part of the quarry face. Once the vegetation was removed the sheer rock face became visible and the jagged edges and layered rocks provided significant design inspiration for the final scheme. The views beyond the site were also spectacular when perched on the quarry face and provided an outlook that would simply never be achievable if a replacement home was constructed in the location of the existing bungalow.

Further meetings were held between SDA and a number of specialist consultants such as the Arboricultural Consultant, Structural Engineer, Ecologist and Ground Contamination Specialist. The information gained allowed the concept to be truly created, we were going to design a floating house!

The design of the house was to cantilever from the quarry face, the house would be one third embedded into the quarry face and two thirds floating so that the mechanics of the design would allow the building to look as though it was truly levitating off the ground and away from the quarry. It was a bold move and when we met the client on site and discussed our ideas for the first time their immediate response was ‘What, so the whole house will be floating?’ We explained in detail what we were proposing but with no designs to show the client at this stage all they could do was trust us to do a great design for them, which thankfully they did. It was this trust and the client’s willingness to do something different with the site which was beyond their initial expectations that pushed us to create a truly outstanding design. We wanted to repay their faith in us by designing an exciting, unique and very personalised home that sat entirely appropriately in its setting.

The quarry face then became the significant influence on the design, large non-opening windows were created into the rear elevation of the home where the building would almost touch the quarry face and through these windows the quarry, with its layers of rock and water running down the face of it, would be visible inside the house and appear almost tactile. The layers of the quarry rock were also brought into the appearance of the exterior of the property, the external cladding on the building was shaded in different colours to create an aged and layered appearance taking its lead from the different bands of rock in the quarry. The design of the home was also stacked in appearance, with layers of living linking to each other where they were stacked on top of each other, the property therefore spread across the site from left to right rather than being placed into the middle of it.

The orientation of the building is arranged so that the outlook from the home is onto a now large formal garden (where the old bungalow once occupied) which provides the family with much needed private amenity space to allow them to play as a family and invite friends over to entertain. The position of the home in its perched location also allows the windows to take advantage of the views beyond the tree lined embankment at the front of the site and to the wider countryside, this gives the homeowner complete privacy but an ability to connect with the outside world without being seen.

The interior layout and design of the home is first and foremost a functional family home. It has areas that are specifically designed to allow family interaction and space to enjoy each other’s company and has areas that are private and those more suited for entertaining. It also has practical spaces included in the design so that open plan modern living can be truly enjoyed whilst the clutter of normal family life can be kept out of sight.

The only way we would be able to convey our design ideas to our client was through computer visualisation imagery. We created the 3D model of the concept design and created mood boards to show the exterior materials, landscaping, sun paths and tree positions. We also designed the interior spaces to show how they would interact with each other and how the interior design scheme would link to the bold exterior architecture.

The use of visual software has been key in this project and has allowed our clients to have a view into the designers mind. They can see in photorealistic quality what the creator envisaged for the completed scheme.

The concept design was presented to the client and they were blown away by it, their vision had been a replacement home for the existing bungalow and what they felt they had received was a piece of truly remarkable modern architecture that changed their view on a family home i.e. why should it be built on the ground and have traditional foundations? The design of this home protected all the trees that surrounded the house as the roots grew away from the ground and into the quarry face so the peaceful and secluded aspect of the site which had first attracted the client to it was still there but now it had a truly unique home in it too.

We are proud of this scheme as we feel it repays our clients trust in us to design them a home they will enjoy living in even though it was initially a leap of faith for them when we told them it would be a floating house!