Last week saw a unanimous decision at committee to grant consent for Hollaway’s paragraph 80 house at Upnor, making this the first paragraph 80 permission in the Medway district.
Situated within the historic Ordnance Yard site, in close proximity to Upnor Castle, this truly bespoke and one-of-a-kind home has been designed to sit sensitively within its surroundings, atop an elevated traverse, overlooking the River Medway.
As required by the demanding standards set by Paragraph 80, the proposal for this unique site underwent a rigorous design journey, comprising multiple reviews with Design South East, officers at Medway Council, and Historic England. This design process led to a proposal that represents the highest quality in architecture, helping to raise the standards of design in the surrounding area.
The site was initially built as a fort on the strategic river Medway, part of a complex of Ordnance and ammunition storage originating at Upnor Castle. A thoroughly developed landscape proposal by Turkington Martin celebrates the notion of the flood wall, demonstrating a clear understanding of the site’s defining characteristics that enhance the history of the site, whilst being integrated into it’s landscape. This design feature ensures the proposal is read as a walled landscape, a defensive boundary between the tidal river and the quay, in keeping with the fortress history of the site.
Despite it’s high level positioning, the house itself will be largely hidden from view by retained tree cover and use of existing topography to minimize building prominence. The landscape on the higher ground would then graduate into more open landscape, easily maintained and enhancing the landscape character of the site by extending into a central courtyard and secluded garden spaces. By establishing this clear hierarchy of landscaping elements, visibility is diminished, ensuring the proposal retains sensitivity of the surrounding local area.
The final proposal brings forward a house that sits comfortably within the topography of the site, wrapped in a protective wall that extends along the natural traverse to the restored bell tower, another nod to the historic on site features that remain. Architecturally, the house is split into two main volumes, their differing heights echoing the hierarchy present in the landscape. The first housing a study, gym and generous kitchen/dining space that looks out onto outdoor dining space and swimming pool. The north-east wing is split level offering a large double height living space and a master bedroom and three guest bedrooms.
Sustainability was at the forefront of this design process. Due to the particularly uneven site; the massing was developed to sit with the least amount of disruption to the existing landscape whilst taking into account the sun path and existing views so the proposal can benefit from passive design whilst minimizing its impact on what is existing. This understanding and underlaying of sensitive, site specific design is what has allowed such a considered, sustainable proposal to come to resolve.
Furthermore, Paragraph 80 gives us the opportunity to explore and experiment with the latest technologies such as solar panels, low carbon concrete, smart glass and skylights. The proposal is a highly sustainable building which will allow Medway to showcase the latest in innovative materials and construction, reinforcing the high level of design that is demonstrated in the proposal. Each stage has included vigorous testing of passive design solutions that allow us to maximize the efficiency of the home whilst minimizing the impact on the immediate and wider environments. The resulting scheme strikes a balance by using a sophisticated passive design combined with technology where appropriate to create a forward-thinking new home.
This house, with it’s long term client, is a building built to last.