Hill Barn & Underhill House

Cotswolds, Warwickshire

In the heart of the Cotswolds, Hill Barn was a derelict 300 year old stone structure which was about to fall down. Situated in a prominent and beautiful location at the top of a hill in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty we saw it as an interesting project to take on for ourselves. Being in AONB open countryside, together with the fact that there was a Housing Moratorium in the area, made the prospect of obtaining planning permission extremely unlikely. We knew we were in for a bumpy ride.

Download the project PDF here

underhill house

Underhill House as we named it due to the Underhill family owning the land a few hundred years previous to us, it seemed appropriate. The house was designed to the Passivhaus Standard — a German standard resulting in a 90% reduction in carbon emissions compared to that of an average home. This project was in fact the first certified Passivhaus in England.

study

Planning permission was granted under paragraph 11 of PPS7 (now NPPF para. 55), a policy which gives special dispensation for new houses in open countryside which are considered to be ‘truly outstanding and ground–breaking’ and to reflect ‘the highest standards in contemporary architecture’. Underhill House is one of only 20 properties in the UK ever to be granted permission under this rule. Being such an unusual design and planning permission Grand Designs followed us during the construction, which made for a very superior video diary. Thanks Kevin

outdoor living area

Watch our Grand Designs episode on the Channel 4 website.

Read our AI Passivhaus blog.

solar shading detail

dining area

master bedroom

living area

kitchen space

underhill house night shot

basement floor plan

ground floor plan

Photos by Samuel Ashfield, courtesy of Dow / Sto.

Hill Barn & Underhill House, Warwickshire

Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, Hill Barn was a derelict 300 year old stone structure situated in a prominent and beautiful location at the top of a hill in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Being in AONB open countryside, together with the fact that there was a Housing Moratorium in the area, made the prospect of obtaining planning permission extremely unlikely.

Underhill House is also designed as a Passivhaus — a German standard resulting in a 90% reduction in carbon emissions compared to that of an average home. This project was in fact the first certified Passivhaus in England.

Download the project PDF here

We addressed these challenges by proposing to convert the barn into an office, and to slot the new house in underneath it. So, despite the sensitive location, the design of the house was able to be very bold. The existing barn has been carefully restored, whilst the new building underneath and adjacent to it is in contrast strikingly modern. Being dug into the hill to be invisible from the surrounding countryside, this is essentially a stealth house, with absolute minimal visual as well as environmental impact on the landscape.

Planning permission was granted under paragraph 11 of PPS7 (now NPPF para. 55), a policy which gives special dispensation for new houses in open countryside which are considered to be ‘truly outstanding and ground–breaking’ and to reflect ‘the highest standards in contemporary architecture’. Underhill House is one of only 20 properties in the UK ever to be granted permission under this rule.

Photos by Samuel Ashfield, courtesy of Dow / Sto.

Watch our Grand Designs episode on the Channel 4 website.

Read our AI Passivhaus blog.