A natural escarpment on the chalk hills of Oxfordshire, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is the site for a highly innovative subterranean residential property that we designed in 2003. The house nestles into a natural escarpment with views facing south; its position within the hill provides excellent thermal mass insulation with geothermal devices storing and providing low cost heating throughout the year. The approach is cut into the landscaping culminating in a sunken circular courtyard faced with chalk. The central section of the house projects out of the escarpment to form a promontory containing a double height living space.
Regrettably the scheme was refused planning despite meeting the criteria. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) Design Review Committee, in defence of the scheme described it as ‘a highly unusual house that will be distinctive precisely because it does not occupy the landscape in a conventional way but responds to it with a design that has clearly been well considered in functional and topographical terms’.