Alison and Peter Smithson research sustainable methods and material consciousness in the design process.
Originally published in AR February 1963, this piece was republished online in February 2012
This is to some extent an experimental building, designed to discover whether, in a house presenting glass walls to the south, east and west, enough solar heat can be obtained through most of the year and its build-up can offset heat losses; also to tryout certain assemblies of materials-sec below.
The site was already walled, having previously belonged to a stone cottage, now demolished. The highest walls were to the north, where the chimney gable of the old cottage has been left standing at right angles to the wall, and the new building has been placed astride these.
There are views to the north and west over the Fonthill woods and to the east and south of the Wardour woods against the skyline of the Downs. The ground floor of the house, which is mostly service area, can be opened up either on to the old paved areas or the garden.
Construction is a modified balloon frame, Testing at the north on the existing stone wall and gaining lateral stability by being bolted to the chimney gable. The south face is cantilevered from a concrete beam bedded centrally in the chimney wall and supported by concrete posts at either end. Wood finishes are pine and teak outside, the first-floor glazing being bedded from the inside against the teak cover-strips. Surfaces are covered with aluminium sheet.