Our clients, both artists, found an idyllic rural property on the border of East Sussex and Kent, just to the north of Hastings. Their brief was to create a new house for them to live and work in. Greatly inspired by the work of architect Richard Neutra - whose work matches the exactness of the client's painting style - and they wanted to bring something of the sense of light, freedom, and modernity of his Californian work to their secluded Sussex site, which overlooks a large pond.
The house makes the most of its site, bringing the landscape inside, and providing a family home and base for entertaining, a workplace, and also a good backdrop for their extensive art collection.
The site, is accessed through woodland in such a way that the visitor is not fully aware of the pond, and its dramatic views, until they have approached the entrance in a loose courtyard, and made their way into the house itself, which is some three metres above the level of the water.
There is a super-lightness to Neutra’s work that is hard to achieve economically in the south of England in the 21st Century, and so the design of this house exchanges slimness and lightness for a certain simple solidity to its overall form. The body of the house - essentially a timber box which is carved-out to form protective overhangs and window openings - is placed on a concrete slab that gently lifts itself out of the land as it falls towards the pond.
Internally there is a very simple and restrained palette of materials to create a neutral background for the art collection and views of the surrounding garden.