A Surrey house by Alan Higgs Architects draws its inspiration from nearby 1930s villas


Alan Williams

Returning home from living abroad, a young family asked Alan Higgs Architects to design a new house for them in Esher, Surrey. The 600-square-metre scheme is intended to complement the local vernacular, while providing flowing, contemporary spaces that maximise daylighting and views out.


Located adjacent to a cricket ground, the three-storey dwelling replaces an undistinguished house on a wedge-shaped plot. The design draws its inspiration from surrounding 1930s villas, which feature gable roofs, prominent chimneys, white walls and picturesque compositions.

Ground and first-floor plans

“We wanted the to develop the vernacular style through simplification and strengthening – it is not pastiche, rather it creates a dialogue with its neighbours”, says the architect. This is also communicated through the external material palette, which includes stone-clad loggias, grey metalwork, bagged and painted brickwork, as well as zinc and slate roofs.


The plan is organised around two parallel north‐south axes. The first extends from the entrance through a long circulation gallery containing a steel and timber staircase set against panelled walls. The second focuses on the rear garden, through the pavilion‐like family living room. Form follows function, with the high-gabled solid main block serving as a counterpoint to the low, glass‐walled and top‐lit pavilion.

Intended to strike a balance between openness and enclosure, public and private, the internal accommodation includes three living rooms, a study, and six bedrooms. The material palette features engineered timber flooring, porcelain tiles, marble vanity tops, and spray-lacquered timber wall panels.

Additional Images


Alan Higgs Architects
Structural engineer
Milk Architecture & Design
Main contractor
Pavel Construction

Duravit, Catalano
Engineered timber floor
Dominic Ash