The Quest, Swanage, UK

Architect Ström Architects, Magnus Ström, Emma Ward-Lambert
Structural Engineer Barton Engineers, Calcinotto and Associates
QS Stockdale
CGI Photography, Martin Gardner
Contractor Matrod Frampton

“The Quest” is a replacement dwelling in Swanage, UK. Planning permission was granted in early 2014, and the project was completed in December 2015.

The site is heavily wooded and enjoys a beautiful southerly aspect with a view over the Durlston Country Park. Early on, we established the advantages of a single-storey building; it would suit the retired clients’ future needs, give an elegant solution to the steeply sloped site and allow a simple arrangement of spaces. At the same time, the design reduces the visual impact from across the valley when looking back towards the house and helped the scheme from a planning point of view.

The sloping site - with protected mature trees - very much dictated the positioning of the dwelling. Access is via the front of the property, so we made use of a retaining wall, faced in local Purbeck stone, to define different levels and visually mask the vehicular route, maintaining a clear view from the living spaces across the valley.

The single-storey house cantilevers over the retaining wall to deal with the level changes and views. The large cantilever has been achieved through two concrete planes: the floor and roof acting together like a space beam. The concrete structure is then in-filled with simple timber dry-lining, leaving the concrete frame visible externally.

The house exemplifies our belief that simplicity and honesty of construction underlie good design. The initial concept and design drivers are instantly recognisable in the building, and we strive to retain this clarity of intent without adding anything unnecessary to the building. We think carefully about how we build our buildings and work closely with our engineers to ensure an architecture founded in such basic things such as structure, details, materials and order.