Barbury Castle is an Iron Age fort in Wiltshire. It is one of several forts found along the ancient Ridgeway.

Barbury Castle

We are not building on the ancient site, but to one side. Swindon Borough Council owned a 70s bungalow on the site which had been built to the south east of the fort. The bungalow had been used as an unofficial tea room and had become very rundown. An arson attack finished it off and left the building without a roof. The council decided to sell the site and use the profits to build an official visitors centre and tea room closer to the car park, presumably to benefit from the views. It is worth a visit just for the views, which are possibly the best of any council car park we have stopped in.

Our clients bought the site and approached us to design their home. The council had placed quite strict requirements on the site but we were very excited to read the councils requirement for "A well conceived contemporary design may be appropriate". We had expected a requirement for a pastiche of the local vernacular. The main and hardest restriction was not to build above the line of the bungalows original ridge line of 7m.

Our clients brief was for a well designed live work environment with an aim towards passivhaus (but not for certification) and to maximize the outlook from the house over the stunning landscape for day time living, without effecting the historic views. Quite a tall order!

The solution was to design an upside down house with the bedrooms downstairs and the daily living accommodation upstairs to benefit from the views. The final design was half and half. Living accommodation remained upstairs but we added the master bedroom to the first floor for the clients to enjoy the wonderful views from their bedroom to the west through the tree canopy. The kitchen, utility and guest bedrooms were placed downstairs, giving the benefit of connecting the living accommodation with the garden. The reality was a double height space with blurred lines between rooms and floors, creating a very open spacious area with lots of natural light.

The house was orientated on a North south axis, with the living accommodation on the south side to benefit from the winter sun for the passivhaus aspects. The main entrance, bedrooms and utility room where placed on the north side to provide the cooler temperatures required for these rooms.