A detached house on a sloping site by Bennetts Associates is designed to complement the local vernacular


Brian Ormerod

Bennetts Associates was commissioned by a friend of the practice to design a four-bedroom detached house on a steeply-sloping site in a historic Cumbrian town. Set within a walled garden, the building adopts an L-shaped plan with a single-storey wing to the south and a two-storey wing to the east. Intended to complement the local vernacular, the ground floor is faced with rubble stone walls and accommodates the bedrooms, bathrooms and a guitar workshop. A green roof covers the east wing, visually extending the sloping site and creating a ha-ha effect.


Located at first-floor level on the east wing are a pair of zinc-clad pavilions housing the kitchen, dining and living spaces. Contrasting with the masonry ground floor, the metal cladding is designed to emphasise the lightweight nature of the structures and evoke the architectural language of rural outbuildings. Connected by a glass link, the structures are staggered in plan, with the living room pavilion set back for reasons of privacy and ease of access to the roof terrace. Inside, the spaces are characterised by white walls and bespoke hardwood joinery.


Planning consent in such a sensitive historic environment required exceptional effort, largely because a bulky scheme by an earlier applicant had won consent on appeal after much local opposition, writes Bennetts Associates. Our proposal was for a smaller scheme that allowed the building to be set well back into the site so that it did not obstruct views over the river valley. By pushing the accommodation into the slope a landscaped upper terrace could be created that further minimised the volume and provided a setting for the living spaces on the first floor. The proposal was formed with the help of extensive consultation, historical research, and the use of interactive computer visualisations for neighbours to see the views from their own properties. A public exhibition in a local hall helped to establish a high degree of trust and introduced the client to their new community.

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Building credits

Bennetts Associates
David Narro Associates
Max Fordham
Quantity surveyor
Bushell Raven
Duckett Building Services

Ashlar stone
Dunhouse Quarries
Precast concrete
Dimension Precast
Anglezarke Design
Green roof
Zinc cladding
VM Zinc