hedge home

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British Homes Awards 2017 international competition for a developer home in a New Garden City - shortlisted finalist

What is the most appropriate way to address the contradiction of relatively large houses on a small plot at reasonably high density and yet achieve the garden city ideal? Hedge Home responds to this conundrum by completely wrapping the house in its own garden with planted green roofs and walls. Individually the house sits on its site like a clipped topiary bush; in association with neighbouring houses, it forms a giant hedgerow. Within its living green carapace, Hedge Home comprises a flexible, informal family home with four double bedrooms over three floors. The plan layout has been designed to allow the house to be built either as a detached house or townhouse, with a central top-lit void providing natural daylight flooding into the centre of the house even in a mid-terrace arrangement. The multiple terraces and balconies and extensive glazing at front and back plus the cut back roof penthouse allow multiple orientations of the house while still allowing sunlight into all major living spaces. 

Hedge Home has direct connections to usable external spaces from every room at all floors, using these for environmental control, bio-diversity, health and social contact. The Ground Floor has an open plan kitchen/diner with views onto the garden through full-width folding/sliding doors, and wide sliding doors connect this to the living room. With a growing number of people working from home, the design incorporates a dedicated home office next to the front door, allowing this space to be used and accessed independently of the rest of the house. The upper floor bedrooms each connect to a shaded outdoor terrace and at roof level there is a wide ‘through terrace’ facing both garden and street.

The back garden is configured as an extension of the ground floor living areas; with direct access from the living kitchen/dining room, the functions of the house extend naturally into the garden. As the back garden is private, it also provides a safe external space for children and pets. The entrance pergola/canopy is planted as a low maintenance extensive roof reducing the visual impact of car parking and the covered bin/recycling store has roof planting. Shared surface local roads are separated from the paths by linear planted swales which catch and attenuate rainfall from roads and gardens.

The living walls comprise gridded frames with planting trays allowing plants to climb on the walls. The plants chosen will relate to the orientation of each house. The living walls provide solar shading, reduce overheating in the summer, increase privacy and encourage beneficial wildlife, including pollinating insects. As well as accessible terraces, there are fully planted roof areas designed as intensive bio-diverse garden areas plus a low maintenance brown roof to the upper roof between the solar panels. Along with permeably paved driveway and path, the green roofs slow down rainfall runoff, reducing the pressure on drains. Birds and bats are encouraged and accommodated in the nesting/roosting boxes incorporated within the thick planted walls.