Friday, 17 December 2010

A House for Europe

Souterrain Maison.

This underground house is for couple in their sixties. They had dreamed of an early retirement to the south of France, however work commitments and an expanding family means they do not want to leave England. They do not want to be part of 'Broken Britain' and the view from there windows forces the notion the 'grass is greener'.... This fear and unexceptance of their homeland has forced them underground.

Visiting Friends and family or holiday makers occupy marine House while the couple inhabit the chalk below. The cliff face facade materially and architectural alters from a ship-lap, post-war prefab facade complete with window boxes, then to salvaged brick from Langdon Hole Battery and then one passes though the greenhouse. The conservatory had to be larger than 'Bay View' house a few doors away.

Sense of arrival is important to the positioning of the house's entrances. There is no main entrance. The front entrance in the cliff face while the rear entrance is found off the casemate or air shaft.

The couple enjoy travelling to Calais three times a year on the ferry to buy alchohol. The wine casemate off of the kitchen and bedroom provides ample storage for one years supply. Despite their frequent trips from Dover they have yet to venture further than Carrefour.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. James, this is a good start and an effective vehicle for your tunnel obsession!

    The storyline is perhaps a little contrived and complicates the issue. Perhaps you should 'park' that for the moment and develop the design independently.

    The plan has a superficial richness and interest but what exactly is driving it? Why does it take the form it does? What is the sequence of spaces? Why are there multiple entrances?

    It's interesting that you still colour the walls of the house black when it is buried. Really, the internal spaces should be white and everything else black. If you drew it like that then the relationship between the rooms and the sequence of spaces might be foregrounded so that you can develop those more.

    What kind of house is it, other than a buried one? Is it a grand country house below ground? Or is it much more subterranean and tunnel like? What is the character of the spaces?

    Given that the house is buried, the power of the project lies at least partly in the moments at which it pokes out of the ground or the cliff. At the moment there seems to be too many of these. Just a conservatory and front door sticking out of the cliff, for instance, would be more rhetorically powerful.

    The ramshackle nature of the plan/parts is interesting but slightly distracts from the overall intent for me. If the rooms need natural light then maybe the rooflights in the garden should be disguised as ornaments/sheds,garden furniture or something? The house is hiding after all right?

    It's a bit Reggie Perrin isn't it? Or reminiscent of the 'canoe couple' from the news a couple of years ago with their false door to another flat? Have the couple here faked their own suicide and built a house below ground?