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Fayland House

Fayland House, designed by David Chipperfield Architects. The house sits in a country meadow north of London in the town of Buckinghamshire. The architects helped return the landscape to its natural state, reintroducing wildflowers and even grazing cows, and designed the house on a single expansive floor that sits comfortably in the landscape, grounds given the very British “Area of Natural Beauty” designation in 1965.

Located on a lush hillside site in Buckinghamshire, the 888-square-meter, single-story home is organized by a loggia that spans the length of the house and connects the living spaces and interior courtyards to the surrounding landscape.

The single-storey house is buried within the landscape and features a loggia running the length of the building. The main living spaces open out onto this loggia while other rooms open out onto smaller courtyards. The house’s walls are made of brick which has been left visible while its concrete roof has been planted with grass native to the Chilterns.

“We talked a lot about how minimalist Modernism continues to be such a compelling theme for architect-designed homes. None of us was interested in those projects. We were aware of the significance of choosing a house with a large budget, but so many houses are luxurious these days and yet have so little architectural quality. To make a luxury home that isn’t pompous or a projection of the vanity of its inhabitants is a really difficult thing. Fayland House places a very large house in a special landscape without disappearing. The domestic outdoor spaces, which have always been an issue in English country houses, are in courtyards, which is an innovation.” – Adam Caruso, Caruso St John/judges’ comments/AR House Awards

“In many of the houses that we saw, there was a self-conscious response to the media’s constant demand for novelty, with no link to the conditions of the place where they were made. I hope to be surprised by projects that emerge without knowing if they’ll ever be published or not. The winner, Fayland House, does push what a house is. It takes normal elements and manipulates them. It very rigid from the outside, but the plan is a lot less obvious That colonnade in the front and the way it modulates the scale on the landscape is very interesting. It also seems to be very rigid from the outside, but the plan is a lot less obvious, offering differing levels of privacy, and arranged around courtyards. The fact that Chipperfield has a large office but can still maintain a high level of quality in a small-scale project is a lesson, of course.” – Sofia von Ellrichshausen, Pezo von Ellrichshausen/judges’ comments/AR House Awards

David Chipperfield Architects:

This family house is located on a large plot in the Chiltern Hills between the villages of Skirmett and Hambleden. The Chilterns are part of the system of chalk downs that run through eastern and southern England with over twenty per cent covered by woodland, making it one of the most heavily wooded areas in the country. It has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since 1965.

The site was previously occupied by a two-storey house with a number of outbuildings including two garages, a summer house, large stables, a gym, a greenhouse and an outdoor swimming pool. This array of structures, together with hard landscaping, had accumulated in an ad hoc manner with little relationship to each other or to their environment.

The proposed development presented an opportunity to restore a typical landscape by removing all of the conflicting features that had been superimposed onto it. In addition, the conifers and suburban planting were removed from within and around the original woodlands. The mosaic of small fields is reinstated by restoring the native hedgerows, while areas of new native woodland planting have been identified and woodland management introduced.

Presenting itself as a large earthwork, like a dam sitting on the cusp of the slope, the single-storey house is embedded in the field facing south-west towards the valley. A generous loggia stretching across the whole width of the building mediates between the private interior space and the expansive landscape. The main living spaces open onto the loggia, while the ancillary rooms, further into the house, open onto smaller courtyards.

All the courtyards differ in character and provide close contact with nature as opposed to the long-distance views into the valley from the main living quarters. The building, accessible via a ramp at the north-east of the site, is essentially buried in the landscape. The largest of the four (sunken) courtyards becomes a working area reminiscent of the farmyards in the Hambleden Valley. The entrance courtyard provides access to the various areas of the house and connects to the land below via the loggia. This opening also separates the guest quarters from the main body of the house.

The concrete roof is covered with topsoil from the site and planted with native grass, while the walls are made of brick, left visible both inside and out. The white colour of the bricks and the lime mortar is reminiscent of the chalk beneath the house. On the one hand the house appears as a natural escarpment in the landscape, while on the other it affirms itself as a man-made structure expressed by the robust brick columns placed in front.

Project Data:

Project name: Fayland Hous
Location: Hambleden, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Coordinates: 51.591535, -0.863669

  • Type By Characteristic: Contemporary House, Luxury House
  • Type By Site: Countryside / Suburb House, Hill House
  • Type By Size: Large House – (more than 650 sqm)
  • Type By Materials: Concrete House

Gross floor area: 888 sqm
Project Year: 2009-2013
Status: Completed
Completion Year: 2013


  • 2015 – The Architectural Review Magazine Awards – AR House Awards – Winner

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Private
Architects: David Chipperfield Architects – 11 York Road, London SE1 7NX United Kingdom
Director: Franz Borho
Project architect: Patrick Ueberbacher
Landscape architect: Christopher Bradley-Hole
Structural engineer: Alan Baxter Associates
Services engineer: Spink Property LLP
Quantity surveyor: Spink Property LLP
General contractor: Spink Construction ltd.
Text Description: © Courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects, AR House Awards
Images: © David Chipperfield Architects, Rik Nys


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Fayland House / David Chipperfield Architects
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