Best Small Development - Winner.
Sustainability - Commendation.
Two next door neighbours seeking to downsize within their established community of Newcastle’s Ouseburn Valley, required modest accommodation, flexible to their changing family needs – with a clear focus upon economy, sustainability and running costs.
With a combined plot width of 14 metres at the bottom of adjacent steep back gardens; opportunities for aspect were severely restricted by topography, overlooking, parking and access requirements. Building to the boundaries on three sides and cut into the valley side, design centred upon creation of light open spaces within a deep plan, effectively subterranean in part.
The site is legible from two distinct vantages: From the valley above, it has an important relationship with surrounding green space. From the Ouseburn riverside below, it sits at the urban fringe of residential areas beyond. Addressing these different aspects, houses are built tight to Ouseburn Road, creating a defined street edge. Whilst from above, they present a single story nestled into the valley side. The roof-scape presents a fifth elevation of native wildflowers, maintaining a green outlook from the valley over.
Both houses share architectural language and construction. A limited palate of robust utilitarian materials is used in a simple contemporary manner, echoing Ouseburn’s industrial past. External openings within deep masonry reveals house large sliding screens providing security or permeability, depending upon time of day and mode of occupation.
Careful internal planning creates open plan living over two floors. Extensive glazing and strategically placed roof lights maximise connections to light and the beautiful leafy context.
A concrete retaining structure supports load bearing brick walls and engineered timber joists topped with exposed concrete floors, an essential element in both economy and sustainability strategy.
An 18 month build was made financially viable through a single contract centred upon shared costs of key civil engineering and services infrastructure.