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The Owers House

John Pardey Architects

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dmadsen, hanley wood, llc

Project Name

The Owers House

Project Status


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This project is on the longlist for the RIBA 2016 House of the Year Award.

Project Description

The house is accessed along a steep and narrow approach road that gives rise to speculation of the views that might reward the ascent. In fact, anticipation of the view cannot match the reality. This house is planned around enviable views across the Fal Estuary, and required bold architectural manoeuvres to properly exploit them.

The street facing façade is modest in context with an apparently single storey building revealing itself to be the upper half of a two storey block set hard against a steep escarpment. The blue-black timber clad upper floor sits on a blond brick base; a composition with an evident and enjoyable flavour of 20th century Scandinavian modernism.

A simple plan arrangement places an L shaped piano nobile over a rectangular lower level block that follows the orientation of the street and the garden behind. The first floor plan turns the accommodation to take in extraordinary views along the estuary. As the site falls sharply away, the living space hovers dramatically over the garden, in a gestural but entirely logical reaction to a challenging site. The jury was impressed by the vertiginous drama of the piece but also by the care taken to maintain the seaward views of upstream neighbours to retain their without compromise.

The processional entrance to the house is highly enjoyable and must never fail to make the owners happy to return home. It begins on a timber clad bridge extruded from the upper storey to span the void to the door .Entering the house onto a first floor stair landing a fully glazed double height wall beyond pulls the viewers gaze downwards and out to the terraced garden, and to those in the know, the hidden form of Team 4’s seminal Creek Vean below.

The plan is simply organised and highly disciplined- the double height entrance hall separating bedrooms and studies in the main block from living spaces in the return. It is the main living space sailing high across the tumbling garden that is the stand-out moment but the jury found much to applaud throughout this architecturally aware and thoughtful house.
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