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An Ode to Rural Life: A Low-Impact Family Home in Surrey by Rural Office

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An Ode to Rural Life: A Low-Impact Family Home in Surrey by Rural Office

October 13, 2023

In the Great Austens conservation area in the market town of Farnham in Surrey, England, Ben and Claire Macland were looking to replace an old interwar bungalow located on a corner plot. The bungalow was poorly constructed with an even poorer energy rating. They called on Rural Office, an architecture firm based in Carmarthen, Wales founded by Niall Maxwell—and their new build was designed and constructed as a low-impact family home paying homage to the design principles of the Arts and Crafts movement. Join us for a tour:

Photography by Rory Gaylor and Jim Stephenson as noted below for Rural Office.

the steeply pitched roof, white gables, and the two capped chimneys are the onl 17
Above: The steeply-pitched roof, white gables, and the two capped chimneys are the only visible parts of the house from the street. A mature laurel hedge wraps around the plot acting as a garden wall. Photograph by Rory Gaylor for Rural Office.

Aptly located in rural Wales, Rural Office seeks to “explore ideas within rural landscapes, responding to these surroundings by reinterpreting the familiar architectural language of the past,” as they say. Case in point: materials, palette, and low-energy design blend seamlessly into the conservation area.

a robust garden surrounds the home. photograph by rory gaylor for rural office. 18
Above: A robust garden surrounds the home. Photograph by Rory Gaylor for Rural Office.
the kitchen/dining room opens out onto the southern terrace with a persian iron 19
Above: The kitchen/dining room opens out onto the southern terrace with a Persian Ironwood tree. Photograph by Rory Gaylor for Rural Office.

The build achieves near to Passivhaus standard with the use of triple glazing, an airtight envelope and mechanical heat recovery, and a robust MVHR system, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery that supplies and extracts air throughout the property, allowing comfortable temperatures within all habitable spaces. Rural Office utilized low carbon materials, lightweight construction, and energy-efficient fabric.

the entrance from the garden gate to the front door. the wood cladding on the e 20
Above: The entrance from the garden gate to the front door. The wood cladding on the exterior of the house is Sweet Chestnut. Red clay Keymer tiles cover the roof. Photograph by Rory Gaylor for Rural Office.
seen in the sitting room is an ole wanscher armchair designed for france &  21
Above: Seen in the sitting room is an Ole Wanscher armchair designed for France & Søn. The brick floor tiles are brown Staffordshire bricks made by Ketley Brick. Photograph by Jim Stephenson for Rural Office.

The 285-square-meter house (a little over 3,000 square feet) includes 4 bedrooms within an inhabited roof space where bedrooms, bathrooms, and study spaces featuring brown, patinated zinc dormer windows. A tripe-height hall connects both levels where the living room, kitchen, and dining room are all external garden rooms set off the central hall.

the dining room has a \1970s børge mogensen shaker table with black extens 22
Above: The dining room has a 1970s Børge Mogensen Shaker Table with black extension leaves designed for Frederica Furniture, Hans Wegner CH47 Dining Chairs for Carl Hansen & Son, an Arne Jacobsen Royal Pendant designed for Louis Poulsen, and a vintage Hans Wegner sideboard. Photograph by Jim Stephenson for Rural Office.
brown brick flooring extends up the length of the fireplace. a bespoke european 23
Above: Brown brick flooring extends up the length of the fireplace. A bespoke European Oak joinery staircase and panelling. The chair is a vintage Bruno Mathsson Pernilla Lounge Chair in leather and beech designed for Dux. Photograph by Jim Stephenson for Rural Office.
the couple&#8\2\17;s cat among european oak angled beads and brass details. 24
Above: The couple’s cat among European oak angled beads and brass details. Photograph by Jim Stephenson for Rural Office.
above; the upstairs study features oak flooring. all lower walls upstairs are f 25
Above; The upstairs study features oak flooring. All lower walls upstairs are finished in Valchromat, colored wood fiber panelling. The shelves are the oak Royal System Shelving designed by Poul Cadovius for dk3. Photograph by Jim Stephenson for Rural Office.
photograph by jim stephenson for rural office. 26
Above: Photograph by Jim Stephenson for Rural Office.
the kitchen is designed in european oak stained clear or with a graphite finish 27
Above: The kitchen is designed in European Oak stained clear or with a graphite finish. The worktop is black granite. The dining room and kitchen are divided by an interior oak and glass paneled partition. Photograph by Jim Stephenson for Rural Office.

For more architectural and interiors projects with similar appeal, see our posts:

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