architect: Loyn & Co Architects

location: Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, UK

Outside is a purpose designed, highly sustainable site specific home for two artists, constructed as a replacement dwelling in a remote location within the Forest of Dean. The site lies in a sensitive rural location and comprises 4 acres on a south facing gently sloping, wooded hillside. From within the site, there are panoramic views looking towards the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Offa's Dyke boarders the west of the site, accordingly, by virtue of its location, the existing house and out buildings were visible from significant distances. Commissioned to Loyn & Co Architects in 2010 the brief was to create a live-work dwelling specific to both the site and to the client’s needs. This included their passion for the landscape and environment along with their requirement for two artist’s studios and a gallery like space to display their art collection and lifetime’s worth of special belongings. The building was to be contemporary and to respond sensitively and yet positively to the site, creating a timeless, quality architectural solution which will contribute both to the immediate locality and to the wider rural area in general. From the outset the surrounding natural environment provided the primary source of inspiration for the proposals. The form of the building is derived from the landscape (the slope, trees, levels and the views) and from the site history. The single storey low lying replacement dwelling is embedded into the site, cut into the slope of the hillside and buried to create an earth shelter which is integrated into the landscape. The footprints of the three existing buildings on the site have been conserved and converted in the new dwelling from ‘inside’ to ‘outside’ spaces. The encompassing roof is created by continuing the existing upper field along and over the building. This provides a highly insulated, intensive green roof as well as linking and binding the spaces together to form a series of spaces beneath. The footprints of the existing buildings, cut out and now open to the elements, form beautiful sheltered external courtyards, within the interior space. The inside is now outside, the outside is now inside. The low lying dwelling is hidden from view from the north, concealed within the existing site plateau and topography. Whilst the footprint of the dwelling is significantly increased, its visual impact is considerably reduced. The internal accommodation arranged around the ‘inside outside’ courtyards is organised and split by a central gallery space with the artists’ studios set into the hill served by north light. The buried retaining walls are exposed cast insitu concrete with a high percentage of GGBS. Elsewhere steel and highly insulated timber panels form the external walls with triple glazing. The single storey dwelling complies with lifetime homes criteria and is designed with flexibility.