Caring Wood is an extensive country home project set in 84 acres of scenic Kentish countryside designed by architects James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell. It is a magnificent country home with the space for three generations of the same family, incorporating formal, communal and private spaces.
The project was revealed as the winner of 2017 RIBA House of the Year in an episode of Channel 4’s Grand Designs: House of the Year presented by Kevin McCloud.
The architects faced a challenging brief: to embody the spirit of the English country house in a design which would embrace its context and landscape, while simultaneously providing a carbon neutral response to climate change.
Aesthetic ambitions, practical needs and sustainable principles dictated every choice of material and fundamental element, especially the roof. Their roofing design involved a combination of shapes and angles that demanded a durable and adaptable roof tile product.
After an extensive search of comparing suppliers and products, architects James Macdonald Wright and Niall Maxwell agreed on Keymer roof tiles.
The architects chose the Keymer County Peg Antique tile for two reasons. Firstly, they liked the natural aesthetic, which is imbued with a distinctive finish and warmth of colour thanks to Keymer’s use of rich Wealdon Clay. And secondly, the design made handling and laying a simple and easy process for contractors. The architects were meticulous in their detailing and planning and so were attracted to working with the Keymer team because of their dedicated and flexible service.
During the project, James and Niall had a lot of questions and the Keymer team was on hand to help. The project team worked hard to ensure that nothing was left to chance – every angle and shape was specifically detailed and modelled in advance.
It was a very design-led construction – the architects had a site office and were on hand to fix, help, advise and look at all the different details working closely with the contractor Complete Roofing Contractors.
The 153,000 Keymer County Peg Antique tiles added together to create a striking looking roof for the country home. The tiles were gradually delivered throughout each stage of the project and were produced using the traditional handmade techniques over a period of a year.
The finished property boasts exceptional sustainability, with both the main house and cottage achieving an EPC rating of A. By achieving planning consent under PPS7, the design of the house and landscaping were jointly considered to contribute to, protect and enhance the local environment.
Caring Wood’s sustainability is addressed through a low energy design and the use of clean green technologies, but also in the application of regional building form, material choices and detailing.
The design team worked intensively with landscape consultants Spacehub and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) to develop proposals for farming, landscape and biodiversity on the estate. The existing natural spring at the bottom of the valley provides an opportunity to create a wetland area that will contribute enormously to the biodiversity on site, providing an ideal habitat of clean running water for a huge variety of plants and animals.
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