Oxford Riverside House

A new family home and riverside garden in North Oxford

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View of house on approach to entrance with front and side gardens shown

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The brief called for a house designed around the garden and the visual connections to it, the river and water meadows beyond as well as to provide an environmentally responsible simple family home that offered a sense of delight and surprise.

From the street the house appears as a contemporary two story narrow rectilinear off-set volume, the garden wrapping around three sides. On approach the three story split level site reveals itself as you enter at the upper ground level through the side of the house via the garden.

The garden uses a series of clustered semi-mature tree’s both deciduous and evergreen to provide a strong visual connection front-to-back while providing screening and privacy from within the house and garden. The front garden houses native woodland planting and snowdrops beneath the trees within the shaded terraces of the lower ground floor level. The side garden which is elevated and south west facing forms a dry gravel garden with draught tolerant planting. Finally the rear garden uses a mixture of raised ericaceous beds towards the house with planting which is tolerant of flooding towards the river such as willows which will be regularly coppiced and help visually connect the rear of the garden to the wider landscape on the other side of the river.

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Landscape plan illustrating upper ground floor (entrance level)

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On entering the house through an external loggia you arrive into the middle of a three story top-lit atrium, your gaze moves to expansive views of the river and landscape beyond via a large double height space, as well as views to the lower ground floor family spaces below.

The upper ground floor contains a large bicycle workshop off the entrance loggia, as well as the master suite. There are two bedrooms on the first floor as well as a family bathroom and large study with far reaching views of the countryside beyond, with the lower ground floor containing a large open plan kitchen and dining space, den and guest room. 

It is not until you enter the lower ground floor that the scale of the house is more apparent as below the garden at the side of the house lies a single story pavilion containing a family room with generous 3m high ceilings. This single story building also contains services, storage and utility rooms, all with an intensive green roof above.

The house is designed with a minimal material palette of dark brick, Iroko timber cladding and bronze coloured window frames externally and light Douglas fir timber finishes internally. The minimal simple material choices have been selected to provide a recessive background to the foreground planting of the garden which along with semi-mature trees will provide the feeling of a home within a garden rather than the suburban “front and back” gardens of adjoining homes.

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The project is currently under construction with completion expected in early 2019.

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Section illustrating double height spaces and entrance sequence

Plans

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Lower Ground Floor (Garden+River Level)

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Upper Ground Floor (Street Entrance Level)

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First Floor

Study Model at 1:20

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Study Model - river side

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Study Model - road side