Secular Retreat – The Long House: Peter Zumthor Home, Devon

House South Devon, New English Property, Peter Zumthor Home, Residence in South West England

The Secular Retreat, Devon – Living Architecture

Secular Retreat South Devon – design by Peter Zumthor in UK

The Secular Retreat

Architect: Peter Zumthor, Architects

Location: South Devon

A space dedicated to calm, reflection and perspective, The Secular Retreat is a veritable haven from the pressures of modern life. In South Devon, between the resorts of Salcombe and Hallsands, lies a landscape of rolling hills, wooded river valleys, patchwork fields and small stone villages. It is here that Zumthor is designing his first project in the UK – The Secular Retreat, a hill-top retreat, where people will be able to go for periods of sustained work and reflection.

The Secular Retreat

Peter Zumthor House
image from Living Architecture

The design makes use of an original rammed concrete that gives the building a mass and scale characteristic of a timeless example of ecclesiastical architecture.

Peter Zumthor says “The Living Architecture concept appealed to me right away. When Mark Robinson showed me the site in Chivelstone, Devon, I fell in love with the place. It felt like a unique opportunity to create a work of architecture, merging and growing out of the landscape. So now, two years later, I hope our design feels British, does have the ‘smell’ of the area, somehow, and will become part of the local chemistry of things. Visitors to the house should feel that they never want to leave, or at least want to return again and again.”

The Secular Retreat – Project Team

• Architect: Atelier Peter Zumthor
• Structural Engineer: Jane Wernick Associates
• Quantity Surveyors: Boyden Group LLP

Peter Zumthor

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is frequently described as the greatest architect at work in the world today and was awarded the internationally prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2009. He is famous for his baths at Vals in Switzerland, his Bruder Chapel outside Cologne in Germany and his Kolumba Museum in Cologne itself. He is a master of craftsmanship, and an expert in the use of natural materials, which gives his buildings an eternal quality.

Peter Zumthor

Living Architecture has commissioned houses by NORD, MVRDV and Hopkins Architects.

Long House – house design for Living Architecture by Hopkins Architects:
The Long House
image from Living Architecture

Dune House – house design for Living Architecture by JVA:
Dune House
image from Living Architecture

Shingle House – house design for Living Architecture by NORD:
Shingle House
image from Living Architecture

Balancing Barn – house design for Living Architecture by MVRDV:
Balancing Barn
photo : Edmund Sumner

Living Architecture Houses

– The Balancing Barn, MVRDV (the Netherlands) in Thorington, Suffolk. Due to complete October 2010.

– The Shingle House, Nord Architecture (UK) in Dungeness, Kent. Due to complete November 2010.

– The Dune House, Jarmund/Vigsnæs Architects (Norway) in Thorpeness, Suffolk. Due to complete end of 2010.

– The Long House, Hopkins Architects (UK) in Cockthorpe, Norfolk. Due to complete Spring 2011.

– A Secular Retreat, Peter Zumthor (Switzerland) in South Devon. Due to complete Winter 2011.

Living Architecture Houses – information + images

Devon Buildings

English Beach Houses – Selection

Dungeness Beach House
Simon Conder Associates
Black Rubber Beach House
photo © Stephen Ambrose 07866 602627
Black Rubber Beach House Dungeness

El Ray
Simon Conder Associates
El Ray
photo © Paul Smoothy
El Ray Dungeness : Stephen Lawrence Prize winner 2009

To see all listed projects on a single map please follow this link.

English Houses – Selection

Underhill House, Cotswolds, west England
Seymour-Smith Architects
Hill Barn Cotswolds
image from architect

Underhill House

Black House, Cambridgeshire
Mole Architects
Black House England
photo : John Donat
Black House

Living Architecture

Living Architecture has asked a series of established and emerging world-class architects to build houses around the UK. The houses will be available to rent for holidays by the general public.

The inspiration for Living Architecture came from a desire for people to be able to experience what it is like to live, eat and sleep in a space designed by an outstanding architectural practice. Whilst there are examples of great modern buildings in Britain, they tend to be in places that one passes through (eg. airports, museums, offices), and the few modern houses that exist are almost all in private hands and cannot be visited. Living Architecture will start to open its houses for holiday rentals in the spring of 2010. Further information can be found at

The Living Architecture team comprises of chairman, Dickon Robinson, director, Mark Robinson and executive architect, Meredith Bowles (Mole Architects). The advisory team are Stuart Lipton, property developer, ex chairman CABE; Tom Bloxham, chairman of Urban Splash; Ambassador Alexis Lautenberg, Swiss ambassador to the UK; Michael Morris, co-director of Artangel; Alain de Botton, writer and architectural critic and Peter Rogers, director of Stanhope.

Devon Architects

Suffolk College

English Houses – Selection

BRE House

Georgian House

Hampshire Poolhouse

Hemp House

Shell House

Windermere House

Comments / photos for The Secular Retreat England Architecture page welcome

The Secular Retreat

Website: England