Boxwood – East Sussex Residence

House in Rye, East Sussex Residence, Rural English Property, Architecture

Boxwood, UK : East Sussex Property

House in East Sussex, England – design by Walker Bushe Architects

17 Jan 2013

Boxwood Residence, Rye

East Sussex, England

Design: Walker Bushe Architects

New Rural Property in East Sussex

Boxwood is situated within ancient woodland approximately 5 miles inland from the Cinque Port town of Rye in East Sussex. The site is an acre of woodland clearing surrounded by mature trees and shrubs with no obvious artificial boundaries. Wild Boar, Muntjac deer, bats and a plethora of birdlife are to be found within the surrounding woods.

Booxwood England
photo : Janie Airey

The house, built on a tight budget, replicates in shape and volume a pre-existing double garage at the rear of the site. Planning constraints prescribed that any new house would have to be no larger (above ground), than the original structure.

To maximise the usable space the new building is dug over a meter deep into the ground, thus reducing the mass of the building on the site, with the principal living floor set 1.2 meters above ground level. The intention being that the resultant open plan living space would feel as though it sat within the branches of the oak, pine and silver birch trees within its wooded setting.

Booxwood England
photo : Janie Airey

The open plan living space makes use of the entire volume of the upper level, created by mimicking the original pitched roof garage, giving a ceiling height of over 4 meters to the ridge. The upper level comprises an open plan living/dining space and an enclosed utility room. The lower ground floor has three double bedrooms and two bathrooms one of which is ensuite.

The construction is a concrete tanked basement with walls constructed in single skin Thermalite block-work above ground. A single steel portal frame creates the clear span at upper ground level with further steels at purlin and ridge level to support the timber joisted roof. Rigid Celotex insulation, with a timber rain-screen cladding from locally sourced untreated Sweet Chestnut, make up the outer skin of the building. The roof is covered in Welsh Slates recovered from the existing garage.

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photos : Janie Airey

The elevations and material palette are kept deliberately spare – an expression of a simple retreat. The aluminium and wood composite windows to the elevations frame woodland views rather than opening up the building to its surroundings, with the principle living space lit mostly from above. White internal finishes maximise available natural light to both floors, which are finished in wide light oak engineered planks.

Two, almost symmetrical, perforated GRP decks, more usually found around marinas, provide outdoor dining space at southern and northern ends of the property, above the trails of ‘nipping’ woodland ants.

Boxwood is a highly insulated low energy house that incorporates an air source heat pump, concealed under the external deck, to provide hot water and under-floor heating throughout. A wood-burning stove, that uses timber coppiced from the surrounding woodland, is back up in winter months.

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photos : Janie Airey

Boxwood images / information from Walker Bushe Architects

Walker Bushe Architects


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Boxwood