Case Study - Abbotts Brook
Shortlisted for CRTC Awards "Housing New Build"
Clay Roof Tiles:
Dreadnought Red Blue Blend
Gary Worsfold, Quantum Homes Ltd
This development of 11 houses sits on the fringes of a conservation area and in an environment that has a strong Arts & Crafts architectural sensation. Gary Worsfold, the Quantum Homes' in-house architectural designer explains that, “it was clear that much of the original character and architectural narrative of the area had been lost through a long period of intervention and that it could benefit from a strong and high quality designed scheme which added to, and reinforced the better elements. Current DETR guidance is trying to promote the idea of ‘where we live, affects how we live’ and that ‘good design offers the prospect of a higher quality of life and opportunity for all’.”
The site was originally 2 dwellings, and in granting permission for this considerably higher density development, Richard Payne at Planning and Building Control, New Forest District Council, felt that the higher density was justified by the quality and richness of Quantum Homes designs. They were looking to use locally relevant, traditional materials as well as traditional construction techniques and their design philosophy was followed right through even to the hard landscaping which incorporates the use of plain tiles in an innovative way on the undulating boundary walls and pillars. Richard’s main concern was that “at this density, if the buildings are too high, you are in danger of creating an austere feeling within the development. We therefore pulled down the eaves from the original plans at the front of the development to create a more comfortable streetscape.”
The resulting architecture is far from austere. It is organic, blending natural materials, pleasant architectural forms and technology. Each of the 11 houses is different, and there are accentuated vertical and horizontal architectural elements with sweeping roofs, asymmetrical composition & bay windows etc. to create an architectural narrative which has interest and vitality. To maximize space, all the roofs are of a steep pitch, allowing for rooms within the roof space and 2 of the houses even have 2 stories within the roof space. The resulting varied roofscape adds drama and visual interest.
Heights, massing, boundary relationships and the use of traditional building materials all add to the rich tapestry and architectural expression at Abbotts Brook. The use of traditional building materials, associated with the Arts and Crafts style was vital if the design was to display a real sense of place and character that is successful. Hard and soft landscaping, bricks and roof tiles all contribute, but with such a prominent roofscape, a poor decision on the choice of tiles would have severely compromised the result.
Dean Wells of Canford Roofing said, “my greatest challenge in tiling this development was the curved roof, which was not so much an issue with the tiling but more with laying the battens. I soaked the battens everyday for 4 weeks in order to bend it perfectly; at the top of the roof, it was almost a 90° bend. I used 2 layers of counter battens and I worked in from both sides into the middle of the curve”.
On the rear of this curved roof, there are 3 different pitches on the same curved elevation which again presented challenges for Dean. He had to change the direction of the valley a few times.
Dean had to cut a lot of tiles to achieve the clean mitred joints. He found the tiles cut extremely well, even with a cruncher.
Quantum homes have set out here to create 11 exemplar and innovative family homes. Each house is different and the very varied roofscape adds considerable character and charm to this development which is situated within a highly desirable area of Lymington. The sweeping curved roof and the neatly mitred joints and finely constructed roof detail help to create the sweeping architectural narrative of this quality development.
Gary Worsfold, Quantum Homes' in-house architectural designer comments “the design criterion is always a balancing act. One compromise can drastically alter a project. With this project, little technical dilemmas existed. The Dreadnought product is excellent, with dimensional, color and textural quality consistent throughout; however the need to use the product with subtlety and skill placed the greatest demand. The tiles sit alongside the prevalent use of lead, brick and detailed architectural events, all of which required high levels of quality control and the expert selection of tradesmen to use the product with artisan craft. The results speak for themselves!”
The Quantum Homes architectural designer Gary Warsfold commented that “the use of plain clay tiles was considered vital if the tapestry of materials, how they co-ordinate and add to the whole event was to be successful.” The high density of the development dictates changes of direction in the external walls that are not always at 90 degrees and furthermore changes to the pitch of the rafters. Only plain tiles offer the flexibility to achieve this. They enable the roof surface to flow from one elevation to another. This is a characteristic that is of increasing benefit, as Government policy calls for increasing development density.
Of the Dreadnought red blue blend tile which was specified, he said “the subtle tones, shadow lines and organic nature of their tile subtly add contrast and interest. Their use in creasing tiles for walls and architectural features, all unites to create a symbiotic event of architecture, but ultimately, a beautiful place to live. The colors are rich and varied with purples & blues merging with reds and vibrant terracotta’s; all combining to create a cohesive event of roofscape that unites the project and the architectural dialogues.”