Contemporary Cornish comes naturally

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 April 2014

Hugh Hastings / CSA Architects

Creating a family home in the Helford Passage proved a passionate project for its designers at CSA Architects

Helford Passage has a new home on its banks - and if the architects behind it have done their job properly it should not be too easy to spot.

Overlooking the river, surrounded by trees, the home has been designed by CSA Architects to meet the owners’ life and desires but also to fit within the area it sits. There is no grandstanding here: just a beautifully designed home.

Like all good architects, CSA spent time with the owners getting to know them, understanding their lifestyle and listening to their practical needs and aspirations for their new home.

“We had to see the unique setting for ourselves in order to be able to design a home that is perfect for the family and also suits the landscape,” says managing director Justin Dodge. “We were inspired by the surrounding woods and river flowing below, the natural beauty of the site.”

The hillside property lies in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its proximity to the river meant there were unusual considerations such as windows reflecting glare from the sun and affecting marine traffic.

“The owners have travelled extensively throughout the Orient and since the house floats above the water we were inspired by Japanese gardens,” explains Justin. “We wanted to incorporate this into the design, to create a fusion of oriental influence and traditional Cornish features. We created multiple roofs, reminiscent of lily pads, that have less impact on the surrounding wooded environment.“

Each roof ends in a ‘kick’, the upturning of the edge of the pitched roofs. This is found in both Japanese and Cornish traditional buildings. CSA also gave the roofs large overhangs in the style of oriental pavilions that lend shade to the huge windows and create the effect of a veranda, allowing open windows on a rainy day. More practically, the overhang prevents glare, which makes the glazing harmless to river traffic.

The balance of aesthetics and practicalities meant using lightwells on each pyramid roof - another Japanese influence. They are glazed and provide natural light in the centre of each room, and can open to let in a cooling breeze.

"We specialise in a subtle form of contemporary architecture that creates homes that quickly become a part of of their landscape "

So how can a new building look at home in such a rural setting? The answer lies in organic architecture that grows from the landscape. At Helford Passage that meant using local slate roof tiles, a muted colour palette that matches the land and natural stone. This Cornish stone is evocative of its natural surroundings in hues of greys, oranges and browns. Timber cladding was chosen and will evolve through time to match the wooded setting. This combination of contemporary architecture using the latest innovation and materials combined with traditional materials that roots the new building into its setting.

“We specialise in a subtle form of contemporary architecture that creates homes that quickly become a part of their landscape,” continues Justin.

The interior speaks for itself, but the addition of a mezzanine floor is a great idea for making the most of the extraordinary views and creates a more private space at the heart of the home.

Bespoke design like this recognises every site and every owner is different.

“We create an extremely eclectic range of private homes, since each owner has unique tastes and aspirations. We relish designing the perfect house for each individual and every site, from the conversion of a traditional farmhouse or barn through to a bold, modernist home,” continues Justin. “What puts a spring in my step is that every day I get to create something completely different. I work with the latest technologies and materials fused with the local vernacular to create buildings. These are a lasting legacy, so quality is foremost. It is a great responsibility, but it gives us enormous pride. In the same way, it is the legacy of each owner as they are the patrons of this modern age of architecture.”

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