This Modern Courtyard Home Celebrates a 100-Year-Old Tree

A former fruit orchard makes for a stunning family home outside of London.

Seeking a home away from the city, architect Jake Edgley found a former fruit orchard outside of London in Dulwich for his family to plant their own roots. "We wanted to build a house that was a retreat from the city, and that gave us a serene and private interior space," Edgley says. The land had grown wild with trees so Edgley and his practice, Edgley Design, relied on channeling the site's history to guide the design. Built around a 100-year-old pear tree, the modern courtyard home takes full advantage of its surroundings, from the vertical wood boards to filling the home with natural light throughout the day.

"I believe that the beauty is in the execution. Beautiful things can be made from humble materials with thought and care," says architect Jake Edgley. 

On the exterior, the vertical slats were chosen to camouflage the home into the site.  Gold-anodized aluminum compliments the natural elements. Ample light enters the north east side in the morning where the kitchen is located while the main living spaces are orientated toward the south for light during the day.

Landscaping was designed by Gardenia Gardens.

"I like to use materials that have a natural quality that will improve with age. We try to avoid sterile minimalism. While I like the clean lines of minimalism, I prefer to think of our interiors as maximalist," Edgley says. The interior features two concrete cores that contain the stairs. The concrete floors are polished where as the walls are treated with a matte finish. Glulam columns were installed to continue the vertical form. Joinery was constructed from oak veneered plywood with brass details.

In addition to being visually striking, the home includes several sustainable features. The firm used solvent-free paint and avoided any formaldehyde materials. Thermodynamic roof panels were installed to generate hot water and obtain rain water. The panels minimize the reliance on carbon-generated energy. The home has concrete thermal bridge detailing which helps reduce heat loss.

The aluminum was manufactured by Baileys Aluminum. The gold-anodized aluminum was supplied by Neville Precision Engineering. 

Edgley describes the home as a "layered internal environment." The courtyard is organized so that the family can maintain their privacy. The result is that all the interior spaces are visible within the home. "Children can take off and play in relative seclusion, but you can see what they are up to in the distance! They also like to race their scooters from one end of the house to the other, or play football," he says.

The sofas are designed by Robin Day for Habitat. The walnut frame nicely contrasts with the soft leather cushions. 

The other centenarian fixtures in the home are the glass light shades in the kitchen. The shades originally hung in an old chapel. The brass bar was designed by the firm. 

The dining room table is from Habitat. The oak veneered plywood is by Peter Benson Plywood. 

Many of the lights and rugs are from local shops. "We like to look for unusual and unbranded, often around Dulwich," says Edgley. 

Edgley Design designed the beds and headboards in the bedrooms. Just one of the several bespoke details that the firm included in the home. 


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