Clay retreat / PAD studio
Clay retreat / PAD studio
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Text description provided by the architects. PAD studio has realized a serene three-bedroom home in the New Forest National Park with light, natural interiors and strong connections to the outdoors for a London-based family.
PAD studio was initially tasked with revamping an existing dilapidated cottage on the large leafy site that has been haphazardly extended over several decades. The local planning authority has recommended that studio PAD design a sustainable and cohesive new home rather than revive the disjointed cottage, provided the new home matches the footprint of the old.
PAD studio designed an L-shaped plan of two connected pitched roof volumes, which minimizes the scale of the development. The architects clad the house in wooden slats and white plaster in reference to the A-frame chalets neighboring the rural hamlet, perfectly meeting the client’s specifications and local town planning stipulations.
A long glazed hallway and open walkway lines the internal boundary of the L-shaped house, designed to provide visual connections to the main dining room and the tranquil garden of ponds and wooden decks. Two bedrooms, a family bathroom, and the master bedroom with en-suite shower occupy one wing of the home, while an open-concept living room, dining room, kitchen, and utility area occupy the other. Studio PAD has cleverly maximized the restricted size of the site by incorporating a new veranda into the plan, which features the corner and overhead glazing in the main dining area.
The craftsmanship is apparent at every turn of the clay retreat. The interior palette of natural materials, including oak, polished concrete and plaster, and jute, was chosen to bounce light throughout the home. A specially cast concrete hearth borders the living space, while forming a shelf in the utility room and storage room behind the fireplace. A bespoke stair railing leading to a mezzanine study is wrapped in nearly half a kilometer (453m) of sisal rope, which took a week to weave by hand. Walls and ceilings are hand washed in a natural clay plaster, adding a muted textured finish. Bespoke floor-to-ceiling oak cabinets line the bedrooms and laundry room to provide plenty of storage.
PAD studio imbued the new home with the calm character of the family and incorporated references from their multicultural heritage. Influenced by Japanese entrance customs, studio PAD used a variety of flooring materials, including brick, concrete and wood, to create clear demarcations and thresholds between spaces with and without shoes. The house features versatile ledges along the hallway windows in the children’s bedrooms, providing a variety of spaces to spend time curled up with a book while having a connection to the larger house and views of the surrounding nature. Mezzanines in the children’s bedrooms add optional sleeping spaces to maximize use of the restricted floor plan and provide secondary spaces for reading and resting.
The Clay Retreat embodies Studio PAD’s commitment to responsive and environmentally friendly architecture. The house is heavily insulated, with triple glazed windows and thermal bridges to stop heat loss. Sealed for airtightness, the operable windows have been carefully arranged in accordance with PAD’s natural ventilation strategy. An air-source heat pump provides an off-grid solution for providing background heating and heating hot water contained in a thermal store. Photovoltaic panels generate electrical energy to compensate for the use of mechanical systems, neutralizing their energy consumption. The timber frame structure includes blown paper insulation in the roof, while the fully insulated raft foundation system uses 60% less concrete (on average) compared to traditional foundations.