Silver Sands was commissioned in early 2014, after the successful completion of another detached house in Kent by the same client and architect. The architects were asked to put together proposals for a site next to the busy Thanet Way in Kent. A brownfield site, it contained a number of unique design challenges, not least of which was the issue of noise next to such a major road.
The architectural approach was thus – to design a place so intimate and welcoming that any planning concerns were consequently outweighed.
Once the overall masterplan for the site had been decided upon by Inside Out Architecture, the practice believed it was necessary to team up with an experienced landscape architect to realize the project’s full potential. Subsequently, Landscape Perspective was brought on board. Over a period of weeks and months, the design team worked together to create something a bit unique – an artificial woodland community. This was part of a shared belief that development could occur in a way that reversed the decline of natural and rural habitats. This project would not be “houses on a rural brownfield site” but a series of “woodland retreats”. This also fitted into the wider context which had a number of micro-woodlands scattered amongst agricultural land.
The Passivhaus standard was adopted, as was a contemporary version of the local Kent vernacular. A mix of house types and sizes was proposed. There are 14 houses in total, from 3-bed up to 5-bed. The houses are arranged in such a way that they all open up into the communal woodland, a place for children to play and a community to be built. Every effort was made to eliminate obvious boundary conditions in this central space that would interfere with the sense of community, while all of the houses also have their own private gardens which back onto the site boundary.
A key aspect of the woodland space was that roads needed to be eliminated too, at least in their typical form. A simple ring road serving the houses would instantly transform the site into a typical suburban development, unsuitable for an ambitious rural project such as this. Instead, using subtly designed grass-paved routes, vehicular access blends with pedestrian movement. In doing this, we made an affirmative decision to put the pedestrian first.
On the northern boundary lie 6 semi-detached units. These units were made semi-detached for Passivhaus efficiencies – a larger floor area to external envelope ratio. All of the other houses were large enough to work as detached units, and all followed a similar orientation and logical layout – a long linear living space along the south edge, opening up to south facing private gardens, while maintaining views through to entrances on the north side the look out into the communal woodland.
This project was granted planning permission on 5th November 2015, with the local council and design review panels enthused by the project’s level of ambition.
Location | Goodnestone, Faversham, Kent, UK
Architect | Inside Out Architecture
Project Architect | Anthony Hall
Landscape Architect | Ann Rowland of Landscape Perspective
Visualisations | FUMO Stidio
Text | Inside Out Architecture
Client | Warren Stores (Holdings) Ltd