Lake House, Etonbury, Bedfordshire
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The Lake House, Bedfordshire takes inspiration from Falling
Water, the acclaimed Pennsylvania house by Frank Lloyd-Wright. The
largest and most expensive self build house in the UK is the first
to be granted planning permission under PPG7 a government
initiative to promote construction of exemplary country
Conceptual architect Applin Design and contractual architect
Tim Drewitt used concrete to give the house form and presence
within the landscape, just as the relationship with the environment
gives the concrete form of Falling Water its unmistakable
character. The building, chipped into a sloping lakeside site,
rises in fully glazed stepped levels created by the poured in situ
reinforced concrete frame.
While full height glazed walls and large open terraces give
panoramic views, a heavily reinforced concrete cantilever over the
lake anchors the building. "Concrete was the obvious choice," said
Drewitt. "The big cantilever needed columns; it was obvious that we
build from concrete." The house sits onto a monolithic
reinforced concrete lower ground floor slab over 90 pile caps
driven into clay. Reinforced concrete allows the wide span rooms,
without structural columns in the living spaces.
"Some walls are exposed, so the concrete aesthetic was
important. We used simple timber shuttering for the entire
building." The self build pour took two men eight months, using a
natural mix of concrete. The thick reinforced concrete walls and
slabs range between 200-250mm in depth, allowing the building mass
to be exploited thermally to manage the internal environment.
"The walls to the main atrium are left as exposed concrete,"
said Drewitt. "The shuttering for this section, plywood covered in
plastic, gives the concrete a tactile, smooth finish. Joints and
bolt heads leave negative impressions in the finish to the walls."
External walls are clad with 100mm high density polystyrene board,
mechanically fixed to the frame and then rendered. The lower ground
floor slab lies over a high-density polyurethane insulation
The glazed atrium rises from lower ground basement level with
a feature cascading water from first floor front door level into
the lake below. The first floor provides living area, dining room
and kitchen, conservatory and staff accommodation. The second
floor, with four en suite bedrooms, is accessed via a lift or
tempered glass stairway. The top floor is reserved for a full
height glazed study and observation deck.
Conceptual Architect: Applin Design
Construction Architect: Tim Drewitt Associates