Three generations live under one roof in this sustainably minded home that breaks from the norm of the picturesque English countryside. Macdonald Wright Architects and Rural Office for Architecture director Niall Maxwell designed the multigenerational home, called the Caring Wood House, that’s powered by solar and uses as little energy as possible. Topped with angular rooflines that reference the region’s hop-drying oast towers, this modern and energy-efficient estate was created as “a carbon neutral response to climate change.”
Located in 84 acres of rolling hills in Kent, Caring Wood is located on land formerly overtaken by agricultural polytunnels. “The house engages in the dialogue of critical regionalism: progressive design practice which is also infused with a spirit of local identity,” said the architects’ statement. “Its brief was to embody the spirit of the English country house and estate in a design which would embrace its context and landscape, while providing a carbon neutral response to climate change.”
A major challenge of the new-build was satisfying PPS7, a planning document that strictly controls new housing in the English countryside and requires designs “be truly outstanding or innovative, helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas” and “reflect the highest standards in architecture,” among other criteria. The architects successfully won planning approval with their carbon-neutral design strategy that included planting 25,000 native trees that will absorb an estimated 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 40 years. Caring Wood also makes historic reference to the area’s traditional oast houses with its angular roofs covered in 150,000 handmade peg tiles sourced from Sussex.
From a distance, the house appears to comprise a series of freestanding buildings, however, the buildings are actually interconnected at their rag-stone bases and are arranged around a shared central courtyard that provides passive cooling in summer. The buildings are built with cross-laminated timber structures and are powered by solar energy and heated with a ground-source heat pump. Rainwater is also collected and reused on site.
Images by Heiko Prigge, lead by James Morris