Crowbrook, Hunsdon, Ware
Knox Bhavan Architects LLP

Crowbrook is unashamedly modern, a ‘simple house made special’ addressing disability without making an issue of it. It sits within a beautiful well-established garden on the footprint of a shoddy 1970’s bungalow, preserving the garden, views and aspect, but miraculously feeling twice the size.

Mark de Rivaz has rheumatoid arthritis. He and his wife Bee wanted a purpose designed, fully accessible, spacious, comfortable, environmentally efficient, beautiful, modern house. Working long hours at home an enjoyable place to work was essential, and convalescing Mark must feel connected to the heart of the house. With five adult children, sleeping and bathroom accommodation is occasionally needed whilst maximising usable space just for two, year round.

To optimise space, corridors are banished, sleeping space made flexible, and bay windows with flush ceilings project into the landscape. Finishes are simple, painted plaster, standard white bathroom tiles and basalt floors. The standard 2.4m ceiling height is lifted at the heart of the house capturing and filling the space with light. Deliberate long views and glazed open corners make a strong connection with the garden.

Constructed as a breathing timber frame, fully filled with cellulose fibre insulation, clad in the local vernacular black boarding, set on a brick plinth, Crowbrook is carefully orientated to maximise passive solar gain whilst reducing heat loss and solar glare. Glazing is fixed with solid ventilating shutters, LED lighting, low energy water devices, PV and solar thermal panels, water butts, and planted roof boost the benefits of the energy efficient construction and orientation.

In a Category 1 Conservation Area, Crowbrook is a striking, modern, energy efficient reinterpretation of the local vernacular. Generously day lit, with careful and sensitive detailing, flush thresholds and sliding doors it responds unobtrusively to the physical needs and aspirations of the client.

Practical Completion was achieved June 2012.

Photographs: All Photographs copyright of ©Dennis Gilbert
- Main image: West Elevation Detail
- West Elevation
- Interior Living Room Space- Looking South Towards the kitchen
- Interior Living Room Space- Looking North towards the sitting room and bedroom
- Interior view from the master bedroom towards the living space

- Proposed Ground Floor Plan and Long Section. Scale 1:100
Includes Site Plan at 1:1000 for reference

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