Project posted by Blee Halligan

Derwent Valley Villa


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Full Baths
Partial Baths


From Blee Halligan

Derwent Valley Villa is a new build family home set on an open site at the heart of the village of Duffield, Derbyshire.

Inspired by the local red-brick cotton mills with their functional elegance and strong proportions, this home is designed to sit comfortably in the village street scene of Edwardian houses, whilst capturing the essence of an architecture that is bold and purposeful.

Our brief highlighted the importance of creating a space that can inspire, enhance and grow together with the family for the next 20 years. With a careful adaption to the surrounding, the client wanted to make the most of the views, sunlight and gardens, whilst keeping the hidden wonderment of the existing property. The strategy was to deconstruct the building and extend the plan through the site, so as to maximise the experience of 'living in a garden'. The building defines a variety of linked garden spaces, each of different scale, orientation and outlook.

The elevations introduce precast concrete banding as lintels and capping stones, defining the lower portion of blue brick (earth) with the upper level of lighter red stocks (sky). The form of the house originated from the site conditions and the position of the bungalow, now demolished. The en- trance to the site (through thick local stone boundary walls) was located at one end of the plot, with an expansive asphalt driveway obliterating the possibility of a functional garden.

On entry, a utility structure provides guest, garage and boot room spaces, connecting via a long glazed link to the primary living space. This is a large open plan volume in which to cook, eat and gather. Inspired by the mill interiors of steelwork and exposed timber beams, this is a space that is intended to be durable and adaptable. An intricate staircase is held within the gap to the adjacent building. This stair rises, breaks out and morphs into a gallery, overlooking a dramatic double height space, which is topped with a circular rooflight - a simple sundial - projecting the passage of the day onto the whitewashed timber walls. The principle bedroom is entered via a discreet opening in the brickwork wall of the upper level, with the secondary bedrooms duplicated and bookended by a family bathroom with views out across the gardens.

The landscape strategy was just as important as the house itself. J&L Gibbons designed a 'wet woodland', drawing the eye through to the various pocket gardens. A small pond was built under a willow tree and linked via a rough sawn oak bridge, providing a shady and quiet space to retreat, surrounded by the garden and overlooking the valley beyond.