Cookham Dene is a small village in Berkshire. Here Duncan and Christine Penny commissioned Baufritz to design and build their new home, knitting contemporary design into a charming rural setting.
Duncan and Christine Penny’s house is an excellent example of Baufritz’s ability to meet the demands of a complex brief and site. The Pennys wanted to replace an existing 1960s house on the site, which had a haphazard layout thanks to numerous extensions, and which was very expensive to run. In its place, Christine and Duncan wanted a contemporary and sustainable house that would better suit the needs of them and their family.
Obtaining planning for a contemporary new home on an elevated plot adjoining a Conservation Area was challenging. Baufritz’s solution was to build the house into the hillside site, and split it into three distinct elements beneath separate roofs to break up the volume. Timescale was also a critical factor as the family needed to move out of their home during construction. Thanks to the Baufritz’s prefabricated timber frame construction, the timber and render exterior was erected within three days, with the house complete and ready to move into soon afterwards.
The entrance elevation presents as two modest wings arranged in an L-shape. Slender columns support the first floor, giving the house a lightweight appearance. The main external materials here are white render and red clay tiles – a contemporary palette that nevertheless blends comfortably with the setting. The garden elevation, on the other hand, offers something quite different and a much livelier composition. Here three storeys face the large south-facing garden, with a tall grey timber-clad section that juts upwards and contrasts with the pale render and clay tiles used elsewhere. A large timber terrace with a steel and glass balustrade runs across, with a glazed verandah that forms an elegant outside living space.
Inside, the main open plan space contains an entrance hall leading to spacious living, dining and kitchen areas. The feeling of space is enhanced by generous amounts of light entering the house from three sides through full height windows, leading to a generous series of balconies and terraces. To one side, a smaller living room can be partitioned off by sliding doors to create a more intimate space. Upstairs, four large bedrooms each have their own private bathroom. The master suite is particularly impressive, with full height ceilings extending into the pitch of the roof to enhance the sense of space. On the lower ground floor there is a wine cellar, music room and a large games room with sliding doors opening onto the garden.
Sustainability was a key criterion for Duncan and Penny when designing their house, whose design exceeds Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. 90% of the demolished house was removed for recycling, while the prefabricated timber frame construction method minimised construction waste. The house is well-insulated using natural materials, and carefully orientated to maximise natural light and solar gain during winter. External blinds reduce overheating during the summer. The house is an incredible 100 tonnes gross carbon store, and has provision for solar hot water or PV cells on the main roof. A rainwater harvesting system is used for WCs and laundry.