House 19 is an exemplar of sustainable contemporary design in the context of an ancient historic town. Located at the end of a lane which runs north from the conservation area of Old Amersham High Street the house fuses traditional forms and local materials in an elegant and modern way making full use of the natural aspect and orientation of the site. The evolution of a simple plan and section delivers a house of exceptional quality whilst at the same time uniting passive and active energy saving features in a well-considered, thoughtful assembly of light filled spaces suited to 21st century living.
The house captures stunning distant views over the surrounding Chiltern Hills from all upper rooms and circulation spaces and modulates daylight and sunlight to internal areas to dramatic effect. Windows are carefully positioned to frame views to the Old Town or provide more expansive views to the south. The result is a tranquil and calm internal atmosphere which changes throughout the day and the seasons of the year.
With a materiality firmly rooted in the history of the wider area through the use of delicately dark stained vertical board cedar cladding, snapped and knapped luminescent flint, dark zinc roofing and accents of carefully placed corten steel the house adopts a commanding yet respectful presence in the context of the lane. The house also makes a contribution to the wider community with the inclusion of a clock on the rendered chimney which can be seen from the adjoining cricket ground and public open space.
The Architect's expertise in the field of sustainable design ensures that practical, robust, simple and deliverable design features are the bedrock of the design approach. These begin with passive measures and a building form which orientates the long axis of the house in an east west direction thereby enabling beneficial heat gain in winter and exclusion of solar radiation in summer through the judicious use of a cantilevered roof overhang above the ground floor south facing glass facade. PV panels contribute to energy generation and the whole house is heated through a ground source heat pump which provides underfloor heating and hot water. Airtight thermally heavyweight construction and triple glazed windows in excess of current building regulation u values combined with an earth tube ventilation system ensure running costs are minimised and internal comfort conditions are optimised. Rainwater is harvested for toilet flushing, clothes washing and garden watering and all appliances have been chosen for the highest rated energy efficiency. A dramatic double height space at the heart of the plan coupled with opening vents in the long upper level dormer window provides opportunity for passive stack natural cooling in summer months. A wild meadow garden and living roof to the single storey garden room enhance the ecological value of the site.
A fusion of architectural delight, contemporary vernacular and pragmatic sustainability makes House 19 a benchmark for new houses of this type in historic locations.