Thursday, 19 January 2012

Design : Ground Floor Level

This is an overview of some of the main ideas and thinking behind the design of the house at this level. There was much more detailed thinking involved in the arrangement, but would be too much to put in a blog post. I would like to talk further about some of the features in posts at a later date.

The layout revolves around the main living area as it is the most important and used space in the house. Although this is one large space it is split up into 5 different zones: - kitchen, dining, play area, lounge & stairwell. The kitchen & dining area are next to the large opening of bi-folding doors which lead out onto the balcony. The dining and kitchen areas benefit most from the connection and views outside, as well as having the most need for the extensive light provided. The play space is bordered by a mid height curved wall. This does not totally wrap around the space and is designed so that it does suggest an elliptical invisible boundary. The lounge space is quieter and disconnected slightly from the kitchen & dining areas by the walls of the play area and stairwell, giving it a much snugger feel. The stairwell is central in the living area to improve the circulation in the house. It is also positioned at the back side of the house to allow the living spaces to make the most of the light and views available.

 The utility is set off the kitchen to allow easy storage and access of consumables and kitchen equipment. The area has a glazed door out on to the balcony for light and to provide a back of house entrance. This is great for goings to and from the house with laundry or for gardening without having to trek through the main living space. There is also a disabled access toilet / shower room off of the utility which provides upstairs conveniences without having to have it open straight out on to the main living area, also useful when coming in from a bit of hard work in the vegetable garden.

We have an office off the main living space which provides nearby seclusion. This space could also be used as a disabled bedroom as it has level and wide access from the entrance to the house. There is also the potential to create a disabled access to the adjacent disabled shower room via a hoist, with relatively little major work (a necessity for a level 6 Code for Sustainable Homes as part of the ‘Lifetime Homes’ initiative). The lobby, and main house access, face the entrance to the site allowing short ‘desire lines’ from site entrance and car parking. Off the lobby is a plant / storage room for all the M&E equipment and back of house storage requirements, something which is often overlooked.

I have previously talked of the strength of the south facing connection with the outside underpinning the essence of the design. However I have tried to keep a connection with the entrance to the site and house from within the main living area through carefully located windows. With the number and size of windows on the north side of the house being limited due to the thermal considerations necessary, it is very important to get light into this side of the house. Hence the windows are located to the lounge, lobby and most importantly the stairwell. With the house being set into the slope of the site there is very little scope for direct light to the downstairs corridor. By creating this type of stairwell, light is focussed relatively effectively downstairs. Use has also been made of rooflights to the storage and office rooms as they are very effective without having to create large openings and cause further thermal loss.   


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