Private House in Cherwell

Floor plan

Situated near the edge of an escarpment in Cherwell, north-east of Oxford, this new farmhouse will overlook a valley to the north-west and its own gardens to the south-east. The site, previously used as an agricultural college, contains a number of existing buildings to the south-east of the escarpment. Several of these buildings have been removed, while a central courtyard arrangement has been retained and is currently being restored. The total arrangement consists of a Grade II listed timber-frame barn with brick stables and a granary; a series of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century farm cottages in the immediate vicinity of the farm are also curtilage listed.

Private House in Cherwell

Situated near the edge of an escarpment in Cherwell, north-east of Oxford, this new farmhouse will overlook a valley to the north-west and its own gardens to the south-east. The site, previously used as an agricultural college, contains a number of existing buildings to the south-east of the escarpment. Several of these buildings have been removed, while a central courtyard arrangement has been retained and is currently being restored. The total arrangement consists of a Grade II listed timber-frame barn with brick stables and a granary; a series of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century farm cottages in the immediate vicinity of the farm are also curtilage listed.

The introduction of a new farmhouse for a large family into this context required not only respect for the listed buildings and the consolidation and relocation of the necessary buildings to ensure the continuation of a fully operational farm, but also careful orientation to minimise the visual impact on the wider landscape while making the most of the views out.

Composed of a collection of four single-storey courtyard buildings orientated in four different directions, the design sets up a dialogue between traditional farmsteads and modern open-plan living. The courtyards mediate the house’s relationship with the wider landscape by acting as a series of outdoor rooms that separate the cultivated gardens from the agricultural land beyond. The courtyards offer different views outwards, and the desire to reduce the house to a horizontal composition of walls, courtyards and low single-pitch roofs results in a house that is closely connected to the land. In this it echoes the ancient Roman villa, while the association with agricultural activities and its formal set-up, looking out in four directions, are reminiscent of the Palladian farmhouse.

Beneath the terne-coated steel roof, the building and its predominant walls are expressed through grey-coloured handmade long bricks pointed with a lime mortar of a similar shade; the materials contrast with and complement those used for the existing buildings. The larger setting and the disparate buildings are stitched together through landscaping and planting designed by Peter Wirtz, including a series of lawns, rose gardens, orchards, hedges, avenues and forests. These features also offer a level of separation and screening between the public and the private, and the domestic and the agricultural.

Date:
2008-
Gross floor area:
1,800m²
Client:
Private
Design architect:
David Chipperfield Architects, London
Director:
Andrew Phillips, Franz Borho
Project architects:
Patrick Ueberbacher, Peter Jurschitzka
Landscape architect:
Wirtz International